New Study Shows that Increased Funding Improves Student Outcomes

The evidence that increased expenditure on schools improves student outcomes continues to accumulate. Yet another study has found that it increases test scores, reduces drop-out rates and increases tertiary education enrolments.

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Shepparton Super-School is Unlikely to Improve Outcomes

The Minister for Education, James Merlino, is treating the Shepparton/Mooroopna community with breathtaking arrogance and contempt in refusing to provide any evidence that the new super-school will improve school outcomes. He has repeatedly avoided fronting the community to justify the school.

The Minister claims that the merger will boost student results. Yet, two years after the plan was first mooted, he hasn’t provided any evidence for his claim. When faced with a direct request for this evidence at a community meeting in Shepparton, government representatives couldn’t provide it.

There is good reason for this failure and the Minister’s attempt to bluff it out – there is little evidence to support his claim!

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What is really going on in Finland’s school reform?

Finland has been in the spotlight of the education world since it appeared, against all odds, on the top of the rankings of an international test known as PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, in the early 2000s. Tens of thousands visitors have traveled to the country to see how to improve their own schools. Hundreds of articles have been written to explain why Finnish education is so marvelous — or sometimes that it isn’t. Millions of tweets have been shared and read, often leading to debates about the real nature of Finland’s schools and about teaching and learning there.

We have learned a lot about why some education systems — such as Alberta, Ontario, Japan and Finland — perform better year after year than others in terms of quality and equity of student outcomes. We also understand now better why some other education systems — for example, England, Australia, the United States and Sweden — have not been able to improve their school systems regardless of politicians’ promises, large-scale reforms and truckloads of money spent on haphazard efforts to change schools during the past two decades.

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The Facts About School Funding in the ACT

Total government funding per student in ACT public schools adjusted for inflation (“real funding”) was cut between 2009 and 2017. In contrast, per student funding for Catholic schools was massively boosted and Independent schools received a lesser but significant increase. Public schools endured a massive cut in funding during the Gonski funding period of 2013-2017 while Catholic schools received a huge boost in funding and Independent schools a small increase.

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Segregated School Systems Increase Social Inequality in Education

There is extensive research evidence that the social composition of schools is a significant factor in educational inequality. Students from different socio-economic status (SES) families who attend schools with a high concentration of students from high SES families tend to achieve higher test results and higher graduation rates. There are negative consequences for high and low SES students from attending low SES schools.

A new study published in the academic journal Studies in Educational Evaluation has found similar effects on educational inequality from social segregation in school systems. It found that social segregation within European education systems amplifies social disparities in educational achievement. Achievement gaps between low and high SES students tend to be higher in more highly segregated school systems.

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Vic Govt Has Failed to Justify Shepparton Super School

The Victorian Labor Government has announced that it will merge four secondary schools in Shepparton and Mooroopna into a new “super school” of about 3,000 students. The merger is being strongly resisted by of the Stop Shepparton’s Super School Facebook group. A community meeting earlier this month called for an independent review of the decision. Many parents are concerned because the merger will restrict public school options in the area.

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The Spending Arms Race Between Elite Private Schools Is Out of Control

The arms race in opulence and ostentation between elite private schools is out of control as revealed by a new ABC investigation. Australia’s four richest schools spent more on new facilities than the poorest 1,800 schools combined between 2013 and 2017. Elite private schools spend millions and millions in competing over lavish facilities. This arms race is fuelled by big increases in government funding.

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The Facts About School Funding in Tasmania

Total government funding per student in Tasmanian private schools adjusted for inflation (“real funding”) increased by about seven times that for public schools between 2009 and 2017. Even during the Gonski funding period of 2013-2017 the funding increase for private schools was about 50% more than that for public schools.

The Tasmanian Government cut real funding by $598 (-6.3%) per student between 2009 and 2013. It increased real funding significantly in the Gonski period of 2013 to 2017 by $465 per student, but not sufficiently to offset the earlier cut. As a result, public schools had far fewer human and material resources per student in 2017 than in 2009 and far less than available in Independent private schools and a little less than in Catholic schools.

Overall, government funding increases have been badly mis-directed in favouring the more privileged, better-off school sectors and students. About 85% of disadvantaged students in Tasmania are in public schools and 96% of disadvantaged schools are public schools.

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How Do Teachers Teach–Then and Now

The following article by Larry Cuban, Professor of Education at Stanford University, provides an interesting historical perspective on teaching methods. Comment is invited on its application to Australia. It is republished with permission from Professor Cuban’s blog.

Most policymakers, researchers, and parents believe that good teachers and teaching are the keys to school improvement yet these very same folks know little about how teachers teach daily. And that is the rub. Good teachers and teaching are the agreed-upon policy solutions to both high- and low-performing students yet reliable knowledge of how most teachers teach and what are the best ways of teaching in either affluent or low-income, minority schools are absent among policymakers, researchers, and parents.

How do most teachers teach?

The short answer is that teachers draw from two traditions of teaching.

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Teacher Workload Has Increased in Australia

New figures released by the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018 show that teacher workload in Australia increased significantly since 2013. The increase was one of the largest in the OECD.

The new figures confirm the concerns of teacher organisations and teachers about their increasing workload. The increased workload, especially time spent on management and administration, and the stress it places on their lives is a reason reported by many teachers for leaving the profession.

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