It is the Funding Stupid: Fixing Remote Indigenous Student Attendance

The Commonwealth has recently announced yet another Remote Schools Attendance Strategy focused on improving attendance through the funding of a cadre of school attendance officers and supervisors in identified communities across Australia. In fact it is one of the very few initiatives focusing on Indigenous students that the Commonwealth is continuing to fund.

Attendance is also a key priority for the Northern Territory Government (NTG). The NTG has recently published for final report of Bruce Wilson’s extensive Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory called “A Share in the Future”. This Report underscores the importance of continuing to focus on improvements to attendance in spite of poor progress and makes a number of related recommendations. Continue reading “It is the Funding Stupid: Fixing Remote Indigenous Student Attendance”

New Data on the Education Divide Between Rich and Poor

A new paper published last week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that students in higher income families do better in NAPLAN than students from lower income families. It says that a strong relationship is apparent between household income and children’s NAPLAN results across reading, writing and numeracy.

There is a consistent trend for children from households with better socioeconomic circumstances to perform better in NAPLAN, confirming that socioeconomic status and parental characteristics are a significant factor in student performance.

The paper analyses newly integrated data on the socioeconomic context of school achievement in Tasmania and the outcomes for Tasmanian Year 12 graduates and early school leavers. The information is based on the integration of Tasmanian school enrolments and National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data, provided by the Department of Education Tasmania, and Census of Population and Housing data.

In Tasmanian households with an income under $400 a week, more than one in ten children scored below the national minimum standard for numeracy compared with only one in forty children in households with a weekly income of $2500 or more. A similar pattern is apparent for reading and writing.

The paper also found that Tasmanian students with lower NAPLAN results are less likely to continue on to Year 12. While 39% of Tasmanian students left school before enrolling in Year 12, this rate varied depending on their 2008 Year 9 NAPLAN reading score. Students with lower NAPLAN reading scores were less likely to enrol in Year 12. Only 5% of students with the highest reading results left school before enrolling in Year 12, compared with 57% of those who scored below the national minimum standard.

Students from the most disadvantaged areas were more likely than those from the most advantaged areas to leave school before Year 12 across all except the lowest band of NAPLAN scores. For example, of the students with scores in Band 6 (the national minimum standard) for reading in Year 9, less than half (43%) of students from the most advantaged areas left before Year 12 compared with 58% of students from the most disadvantaged areas.

The paper also analysed outcomes for a range of other population sub-groups in Tasmania.

Students from families where no parent was employed at the time of the Census were far more likely to score below the national minimum standard for numeracy, reading and writing. For example, 18% of students in couple families where neither parent was employed and 15% of students in one parent families where their parent was not employed did not meet the national minimum standard for reading.

In contrast, couple families where both parents were employed had the lowest proportion of students scoring below the national minimum standard, with 5% not meeting the national minimum standard for reading, 4% not meeting the national minimum standard for numeracy and 11% not meeting the national minimum standard for writing.

Consistent with the indicators of socioeconomic status, children of homeowners tended to do better on NAPLAN than renters, particularly those in public housing. Less than 5% of children whose home was owned, either outright or with a mortgage, scored below the NAPLAN national minimum standard for numeracy. Students in a household renting from the state housing authority fared the worst, with 17% of these scoring below the national minimum standard for numeracy.

Children in larger families were more likely to score below the national minimum standard for reading, writing and numeracy. For example, more than twice the proportion of children in families with six or more children did not meet the national minimum standard for reading, compared with those in families with one child (20% compared with 9%).

While the majority of children live in a dwelling with broadband internet access, children in households with no internet connection fared more poorly on numeracy, reading and writing. Eighteen percent of children in households with no internet connection scored below the national minimum standard for reading compared with 7% of those who did have the internet at home.

The new paper is the first in a series of releases that will publish the results from the Measuring Educational Outcomes over the Life-course project being conducted by the ABS. The aim of the project is to link datasets and produce analyses that assess the impact of personal, family, social and economic characteristics on school achievement over time.

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The Evidence Does Not “Stack-up” for Independent Public Schools

This is an edited version of the negative case made by Professor Alan Reid of the University of South Australia in a debate with Kevin Donnelly about independent public schools held at the Australian Curriculum Studies Association Symposium in Canberra on Friday August 1, 2014. The full presentation is available below.

I argue that the idea of public schools being ‘independent’ is philosophically at odds with what lies at the core of public education and that IPS is a policy in search of evidence. Continue reading “The Evidence Does Not “Stack-up” for Independent Public Schools”

Chile’s Failed Free Market Education System Faces Overhaul

Chile has one of the oldest large scale universal school voucher programs in the world. It was established under the Pinochet dictatorship during the 1980s as part of a policy to create a free market in education through decentralization and privatization of the education system. Continue reading “Chile’s Failed Free Market Education System Faces Overhaul”

Money Matters in Education

One of the strongest criticisms of the Gonski funding plan is that it failed to provide sound evidence that increased funding would lead to better student outcomes. It was widely claimed that research evidence shows that the relationship between per-student spending and student performance is weak [National Commission of Audit 2014a, 2014b, Ergas 2014, Justmann & Ryan 2013, Prasser & Tracey 2013, Public Policy Institute 2012, Sloan 2012].

Continue reading “Money Matters in Education”

School Autonomy in Austria Has Developed a Status Hierarchy of Schools

According to a study of school autonomy in Austria, it has resulted in more competition between schools, created greater opportunities for student selection by favoured schools and led to more social differentiation between schools. This finding is similar to many previous studies of the impact of more school autonomy. Continue reading “School Autonomy in Austria Has Developed a Status Hierarchy of Schools”

Large Gaps in Financial Literacy Between Rich and Poor

There is a large gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students in financial literacy according to a report published by the Australian Council for Educational Research last week. It shows that student performance in financial literacy is strongly associated with a student’s socio-economic background. Continue reading “Large Gaps in Financial Literacy Between Rich and Poor”

Australian Teachers Work Longer Hours and Face More Challenges Than Teachers in Many Countries

Despite working longer hours and facing more challenging circumstances than teachers in many other countries, Australian teachers report high job satisfaction and strong self-belief about their ability to help students learn. However, they need to be better supported by the community in the challenging job they do on behalf of society.

These results come from the Teaching and Learning International Survey, recently published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It provides a detailed picture of the experiences of lower secondary teachers across 34 countries, including 24 OECD countries. Continue reading “Australian Teachers Work Longer Hours and Face More Challenges Than Teachers in Many Countries”

Gonski Panel Member Outlines a Future Agenda for Gonksi Funding

Ken Boston, a member of the Gonski panel on school funding, recently addressed the Annual Conference of the NSW Teachers’ Federation. The following are highlights of the address.

Boston told the conference that the neo-conservative right that has taken control of the Federal Cabinet is totally opposed to the Gonski funding model because “the two key Gonski objectives are both anathema to a neo-conservative agenda”. Continue reading “Gonski Panel Member Outlines a Future Agenda for Gonksi Funding”