On the Definition of Equity in Education

The Gonski Institute for Education recently published a valuable paper on equity in education titled Improving Educational Equity in Australian Education. It discusses what is equity, why equity in education matters and makes recommendations for improving equity in education. However, its definition of equity in education is limited and imprecise. The paper should have adopted the equity definition of the original Gonski report because it offers a more effective guide for education policy and funding.

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The Vast Majority of Disadvantaged Schools are Public Schools

The following is a summary of a new Education Research paper published by Save Our Schools. It can be downloaded below.

Data drawn from the My School website show that school systems in Australia are highly segregated by socio-economic background both nationally and in each state, although the extent of the segregation varies between states.

Highly and medium disadvantaged schools are over-represented in public schools and under-represented in private schools. In contrast, highly and medium advantaged schools are under-represented in public schools and over-represented in private schools.

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The Futility of School Closings

This article is re-printed from the website of US blogger Jan Resseger. The title is amended as suggested by Diane Ravitch

In her profound and provocative book about the community impact of Chicago’s closure of 50 so-called “underutilized” public schools at the end of the 2013 school year, Eve Ewing considers the effect of school closures on the neighborhoods they once anchored.  Ewing’s book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard, is about Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and a set of school closures in Chicago in which 88 percent of the affected students were African American, and 71 percent of the closed schools had majority-African American teachers. (Ghosts in the Schoolyard, p. 5)

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The Benefits of Socio-Economically and Racially Integrated Schools

A recent OECD report shows that Australia has one of the most socio-economically segregated school systems in the OECD and in the world. It also shows that Australia had the equal largest increase in social segregation in the OECD and the world since 2006.

A research brief recently published by The Century Foundation in the United States outlines the benefits of socio-economic and racial integration in schools (references are available in the original which can be downloaded below). Research shows that socio-economic and racial diversity in schools provides a range of academic, cognitive, social and economic benefits.

The following is a slightly edited version of the brief. An earlier more detailed paper is also available from the Foundation titled A Bold Agenda for School Integration.

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New School Facilities Matter for Student Achievement

A paper presented to the annual conference of the American Economic Association in January that examined the largest school construction program ever in the United States found strong evidence that it lead to improvements in test scores, attendance and student effort. It also found that the construction program increased neighbourhood house prices.

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Teacher Unions Benefit Schools and Students

Strong teacher unions are critical to improving equity in school funding according to a new study published in the academic journal Review of Economics and Statistics. They also play a major role in translating funding increases into increases in student achievement.

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Bonuses Increase Retention of High-Quality Teacher and Student Achievement in Disadvantaged Schools

One of the challenges to improving results in highly disadvantaged schools is recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Disadvantaged schools often have high teacher turnover which impacts on student achievement. A new US study has found that selective retention bonuses for high quality teachers leads to increases in student achievement in high poverty schools.

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A Public Inquiry into ACT School Results Is Long Overdue

An ACT Legislative Assembly Committee report on student test results has re-ignited the controversy over school performance. It draws on several reports showing under-performance in comparison with other states and recommends a public inquiry into the causes.

A full public inquiry is even more necessary than suggested by the Committee. It is needed to address the poor results of disadvantaged students and high inequity in outcomes between rich and poor as well as general under-performance relative to the ACT’s demographic characteristics.

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Empathy is the Key to Teacher-Student Relationships

If you ask a group of educators, from any sector what is the most important feature of successful teacher/student interaction invariably you get the answer relationships.  And I would agree.  However, personal relationships are hard work even when both parties are committed to having such a connection.  It is a challenge when the relationship you need is between a teacher and an angry, oppositional student.  It is obvious that it will be up to that teacher to build that relationship, not only is that connection a prerequisite for engagement, how else are they going to participate, it really is an ethical duty.

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Class Sizes will be “The Biggest Ever” Boasts President Trump

Doubling down on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent claim that students “can learn better with larger classes, with more students to collaborate with, to learn with,” President Trump this morning bragged that the U.S. will lead the world in class size. “Under President Trump, our classes will be huge. They’ll be the biggest, most beautiful class sizes you’ve ever seen, believe me!”

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