New Study Shows that the Social Composition of Schools Strongly Influences School Results

There is extensive research evidence of the impact of family background on student results. Many studies from the United States, the United Kingdom, the OECD and Australia also show a school socio-economic composition (SEC) effect whereby students attending schools with a high concentration of students from poor families tend to have lower results than students from similar backgrounds attending schools with higher proportions of students from well-off backgrounds.

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Wealthy private schools don’t deserve bailout money

The following letter was published in the Washington Post yesterday. It has particular relevance because of similar claims from private schools in Australia for a taxpayer bailout.

I was disappointed to learn from the May 6 Metro article “D.C. prep schools keep federal loans” that many of the area’s private schools are being bailed out with taxpayer money. Sidwell Friends School, with only about 1,100 students, received $5 million in bailout money while charging $45,000 in tuition. If elite private schools cannot keep themselves afloat with that kind of revenue coming in, then those institutions deserve to go belly up and their students sent to D.C.-area public schools, where they can get a comparable, if not superior, education.

These private schools should not be allowed to be bailed out when our public schools are scrambling to redo their budgets and our underpaid public school teachers face potential furloughs. Meanwhile, the largest school district in our area, Fairfax County Public Schools, educates more than 188,000 students and employs more than 24,000 people. FCPS and other D.C.-area public schools graduate some of the best talent in the world, while charging not a cent in tuition.

Districts such as FCPS are mainstays of the local economy that provide priceless value to local communities through education and support. Small, endowment-rich private schools have no business receiving our taxpayer dollars while public school systems around the nation get left behind.

US Court Rules a Fundamental Right to Education

In a ground-breaking decision last week, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the US Constitution “provides a fundamental right to a basic minimum education” for all students and that the “Supreme Court has recognized that basic literacy is foundational to our political process and society”. The decision makes it clear that public education has a critical role in providing the right to a basic education.

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The Coalition Govt Sabotaged the Gonski Funding Model

The following is the conclusion of a Working Paper published by Save Our Schools on the sabotage of the Gonski funding model by the Coalition Government. The paper can be downloaded below.

Comments on the paper are invited. Notification of issues not covered and mistakes of fact, analysis and interpretation will be appreciated. Please excuse any remaining typos and repetitions. Comments can be sent to the Save Our Schools email address:

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Increased Spending Improves School Results

A new study published in the Journal of Public Economics found that increased expenditure on schools in low-spending school districts led to significant improvements in student achievement and high school graduation. It adds to the large number of research studies showing that money matters in education.

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Teachers Say There is Too Much Administrative Work & Stress in Schools

Over half of all secondary school teachers in Australia report that they have too much administrative work which takes away time for preparing for classes and is a major source of stress.  A quarter of teachers say they experience a lot of stress at school. These are amongst the highest percentages in the OECD. They are significant factors behind teachers leaving the profession. These are significant factors behind teachers leaving the profession.

Australian teachers also have less professional autonomy over classroom content and assessment than in other OECD countries, but there is more professional collaboration in Australian schools. However, a majority of teachers do not believe their profession is valued by society.

These are key results from the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), an international survey of school teachers, school leaders and the learning environment in schools released this month. The report provides important insights into the state of the teaching profession in Australia and other countries.

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Morrison’s $3.4 Billion Increase for Private Schools is Another Special Deal

The report by the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee on moving to a direct income measure of assessing the capacity to contribute of families in private schools contains a bombshell. It unequivocally shows that the financial cost of the move to a direct income measure has never been properly calculated by the Government. The additional funding for private schools of $3.2 billion (now $3.4 billion) promised by the Government is just another special deal plucked out of thin air.

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Statement on the “Science of Reading” from US Think Tank

The US National Education Policy Center and the Education Deans for Justice and Equity have jointly released a Policy Statement on the “Science of Reading”. It is reprinted here in the interests of promoting rational debate.

For the past few years, a wave of media has reignited the unproductive Reading Wars, which frame early-literacy teaching as a battle between opposing camps. This coverage speaks of an established “science of reading” as the appropriate focus of teacher education programs and as the necessary approach for early-reading instruction. Unfortunately, this media coverage has distorted the research evidence on the teaching of reading, with the result that policymakers are now promoting and implementing policy based on misinformation.

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New Method of Assessing Financial Need of Private Schools Has Major Flaws

At the end of February the Senate referred the provisions of the Australian Education Amendment (Direct Measure of Income) Bill 2020 to the Education and Employment Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. The Bill provides for a new measure of capacity to contribute by families to private schools, adjusted taxable income, to replace the area-based socio-economic status method introduced in 2001.

The submission by Save Our Schools highlights major flaws in the new measure and makes 13 recommendations to the Senate Committee. It can be downloaded below.

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Private Schools Continue to Have a Massive Resource Advantage Over Public Schools

Data from the OECD’s Programme for International Assessments (PISA) in 2018 confirm everyday impressions of the vast gap in the resources of public and private schools in Australia. They show that private schools have far more, and better quality, teacher and physical resources than public schools. Despite the fact that public schools enrol over 80% of the most disadvantaged students, they are constrained by a lack of education resources.

While class sizes and student-teacher ratios are similar in public and private secondary schools, public schools have far fewer highly qualified teachers, more teacher shortages, more inadequately qualified teachers, more teacher absenteeism and more shortages of assisting staff than private schools. Much higher proportions of students in public schools have their learning hindered by a lack of educational materials, poor quality educational materials, lack of physical infrastructure and poor quality infrastructure than in private schools. There are also significant differences between the resources available to lower fee and higher fee private schools.

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