My journey through “Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015” (The Middle Years) Part 3

I am picking my way through the study and there again is so much tasty information and data. The milestone for the middle years is measured at year 7 and I think also is a good point, as it is the transition between the primary and secondary education. In a sense, things are starting to become more serious education wise. It is the stage you start to develop important learning skills and the fundamental skills that are useful throughout your life.

 The early to middle years of schooling are also a time when important foundations for learner progress through the education system are laid and consolidated. Many learners acquire fundamental skills that form the foundations of subsequent learning and academic achievement, and discover their interests and talents across a wide ranging curriculum. Learners also develop a self-concept as learners and orientation to school, which are shaped by, and help to shape, their chances of success.  #1

First except on who reaches the milestones in the middle years from the study

 The highest-achieving group constitutes learners with at least one parent with a university degree, of whom 86.8 per cent meet this milestone, compared to just over half of learners whose parents’ highest level of education is below Year 12 (50.5 per cent). #2

Who is missing out

The differences in learner progress according to parental education generally increase across states and territories as the ratio of lowest-qualified to highest-qualified adults in the population increases.8 States and territories with a higher proportion of degree-qualified adults, relative to adults who have not completed Year 12, tend to show smaller achievement gaps between their children at Year 7. This suggests that the effects of parental education on learner achievement may be compounded in systems with higher concentrations of low parental education, but mitigated in systems where a higher proportion of learners come from more highly-educated families. #3

For learners with a degree qualified parent, the proportion not meeting the milestone increased by only 4.3 percentage points in reading between Year 3 2010 and Year 7 2014, and only 1.7 percentage points in numeracy over the same period. In contrast, learners whose parents had not attained education above Year 11 showed an increase of 10.5 percentage points in the proportion below the benchmark in reading, and an increase of 8.6 percentage points in numeracy. This suggests that the Australian education system does not adequately mitigate the adverse effects of lower parental education levels on educational opportunity, and in fact, appears to exacerbate them. #4

Those who improve and those who left behind

A more consistent pattern emerged according to socio-economic status. Learners in the lowest socio-economic status quintile were not only the most likely to miss both milestones at school entry and Year 7, but the most likely to fall below the expected standard by Year 7, despite having been on track at entry to school. The group most likely to get back on track during this period were learners in the middle socio-economic status quintile, while the vast majority of learners in the highest socio-economic status quintile remained on track from school entry through to Year 7 (75 per cent). Regression analysis indicates that the differences shown in geographic locations in this analysis can be almost entirely explained by differences in socio-economic status. #5

For learners who were not school-ready(Meeting the early year milestone), socio-economic status was the most powerful factor in determining their chances of getting back on track. Almost three-quarters of the learners who started school below the benchmark were on track by Year 7 in the highest socio-economic status quintile (73.1 per cent), compared to around one-third of such learners in the lowest socio-economic status quintile (33.8 per cent). The chances of recovering from a poor start to school, and of staying on track for learners who were school-ready, both increased steadily along with socio-economic status. #6

Importance of School

Government schools serving primary-age students draw over half their students from the lowest two quartiles of socio educational advantage (53.8 per cent). The importance of government schools in serving disadvantaged learners, which shows that almost four in five primary-age learners in the lowest ICSEA quartile attend government schools (79.6 per cent). #7

The social and educational backgrounds of students, as measured by ICSEA, has strong effects on school performance, independently of other school-level characteristics. #8

Prior research using student-level NAPLAN data suggests that most of the variation in student NAPLAN outcomes (70–80 per cent) can be attributed to differences in student individual attributes (CIRES, 2015). There nevertheless remains a significant proportion of variation in outcomes that can be attributed to school-level factors, with the size of this effect increasing significantly as learners progress from primary to secondary school (ibid.). #9

The segregation of Australian students across sectors, and the compounding effects of having disadvantaged students in disadvantaged schools, suggests that learner and family choices about schools in Australia are having detrimental effects on the level of equity within the system, and placing those who are missing out at a further disadvantage. #10

I want to stress particular the part about importance of school, significant difference of performance can be attributed to the school. The difference varies between states, but for NSW it is 26% to 31% of the variation of the outcome is due to the school. To put this simply, attending a better school lends a degree of advantage in achieving better result.

#1 to #10 Educational opportunity in Australia 2015





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