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





My journey through “Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015” (Introduction and Early Years) Part 2

Still going over the study, I have not been able to update as frequently on this as I had originally wished. I was intending to get this series out as soon as possible, but with the work and home responsibilities intensifying headings towards Christmas look like I will just have to take my time on it.

In today’s blog I will go over the introduction and early years of this excellent study. A lot of what has been said in this study really put things we already know and understand into tangible words. No idea why I get so excited reading what many probably think is a boring study, but so far I am really enjoyed the read. Why do we have and need universal education?

 Universal access to early childhood, primary and secondary education, a robust system of apprenticeships and vocational education and an extensive public university sector should work to provide opportunities for all young Australians to do well, irrespective of who they are, where they live or what school they attend. #1

Education should work well for all children because it is through education that young people gain access to society and in turn contribute to helping others. If education does not work well for young people, their access to society is impaired and their capacity to contribute is diminished. #2

The strength of a system can also be measured by how well it provides for diversity in circumstances and adjusts around needs in order to help those who are struggling. #3

In the areas of mathematics, science and reading, on average, Australian students are outperforming students from many other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries (#4). I personally also felt in general the education system is working and works well, however there are many uneven parts. Even in same city such as Sydney things are not uniform, there are significant difference in students performance. Sydney are suffering from a modern day segregation where better schools just gets better and worse performing schools rarely changes. You can almost always tell a school’s relative performance just by its geographic location in Sydney. This has a lot of long term social implications for Sydney and possibly other parts of Australia.

Early Years

This covers the point at school entry.

 A substantial body of international research suggests that learners’ readiness for school at the point of transition predicts their outcomes at subsequent stages of learning (for example, McCain & Mustard, 1999). Conversely, learners who do not achieve positive outcomes in the early years are less well-equipped to take advantage of educational opportunities as they progress further through the education system. #5

Some none suprising information on who miss out on the milestones

 Differences are also evident according to socio-economic status, with just over two-thirds of learners in the lowest socio-economic status quintile meeting the milestone, compared to 84.8 per cent of learners in the highest quintile. #6

Following covers who is missing out of the milestone in the early years

Differences according to Indigenous status and socio-economic status are widest in the Language and cognitive skills (school-based) and Communication skills and general knowledge domains. This is important because these domains are strongly correlated with subsequent academic achievement at school (Brinkman et al., 2013). This suggests that differences according to socio-economic status and Indigenous status have a greater effect than gender differences in determining access to educational opportunity. #7

Language background other than English has a significant but smaller effect on the chances of not meeting the milestone at the point of entry to school. #8

Engagement in early childhood education and care and school readiness

There is some really interesting data on the effect of early childhood education and care on the school readiness. I quote some the most interesting points as following.

Eearly childhood education and care (ECEC) services performing above the national standard are likely to be instrumental in achieving the high levels of school readiness evident in their communities, while lower-performing services are likely to be less effective in preparing learners for a positive start to school. At the same time, these results are evidence of a concentration of higher-quality services in more advantaged communities. When the same analysis is repeated according to community socio-economic status, rather than the level of school readiness in the community, the differences in ECEC service quality become even more pronounced. This suggests that the highest-quality ECEC services may be serving learners from more socio-economically advantaged backgrounds, while low-socio-economic status learners are served by lower-quality services, which do not deliver the support they need to achieve designated milestones in their learning. #9

By examining performance relative to schools with a similar intake, the school performance categories isolate the effects of school readiness from the effects of other socio-educational advantages within a school community. These results suggest that the proportion of learners missing out in a community has a relationship to school performance, independent of other dimensions of socio-educational advantage. This finding is supported by previous research showing a correlation between learners’ outcomes measured by the Australian Early Development Census and their subsequent academic performance at school up to Year 7 (Brinkman et al., 2013). Higher concentrations of learners who have missed out on the opportunity to become school-ready in early childhood appears to relate to poorer performance for schools at subsequent stages of learning, suggesting the beginning of a pattern of social segregation that persists throughout Australian schooling. #10

I certainly had a lot useful and interesting information to digest on for a little while. The actual reports has other breakdown and data like percentage of boys and girls who met the milestone. There are also a host of data which are very interesting even for a casual read.

#1 to #10 Educational opportunity in Australia 2015

My journey through “Educational Opportunity in Australia 2015” Part 1

I have encountered this landmark study a few days ago as mentioned in my Educational opportunity in Australia 2015. I have start reading the study, the key finding already contained some really interesting information. I had a browse through the study as well to see the data and information available as well. There are a sea of data to demonstrate and back up the findings in the study, also offer some really interesting insights into the Australian education in general.

I will probably try to do this in a 5 to 6 part series, to be honest I think this is still not doing justice to the data and information I had read so far. We will see how we go with it I guess. The study had broken the result into four milestone and they are as following.

  • Milestone 1: For the early years, the milestone is the proportion of children who, at the point of entry to school, are developmentally ready as measured across five domains: physical health and well being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, and communication and general knowledge.
  • Milestone 2: For the middle years, it is the proportion of Year 7 students who meet or exceed international proficiency standards in academic skills.
  • Milestone 3: For the senior years, it is the proportion of young people who have completed school and attained a Year 12 certificate or equivalent.
  • Milestone 4: For early adulthood, it is the percentage of 24-year-olds who are fully engaged in education, training or work.


There are more detailed information which you can read from the full report, but I am summarizing what I think are the most important and relevant points as following.

Milestone 1: At the point of entry to school. #2

  • Learners in the lowest socio-economic quintile are 2.08 times more likely to miss out on the milestone than learners in the highest socio-economic quintile (31.7 per cent vs 15.2 per cent). These differences are greatest in the aspects of school readiness that matter most for academic achievement.
  • Of the factors that increase the risk of not meeting the milestone for readiness for school, socio-economic status has the strongest effect.

Milestone 2: Year 7 #3

  • National data on socio-economic differences are not available for this measure, but parental education provides a proxy measure. Learners whose parents did not complete Year 12 are 3.72 times more likely to be missing out on the milestone than learners with at least one parent with a university degree (49.5 per cent vs 13.3 per cent).
  • Learners begin to become separated across schools at this stage. A disproportionate share of learners at the lowest level of socio-educational advantage attends government schools (79.6 per cent).
  • Most of the variation in learner progress up to the middle years is accounted for by student-level factors, but school-level factors still exert some influence, especially social intake as measured by mean school socio-economic status.

Milestone 3: Completion of school at age of 19 #4

  • Year 12 attainment among 19-year-olds varies substantially by socio-economic background. The socio-economic status gap is a much as 28 percentage points between highest and lowest. About 40 per cent of young people from the lowest socio-economic status backgrounds do not complete Year 12 or its equivalent by age 19.
  • The nature and quality of school completion for young people varies, and this is important because it affects access to later opportunities. Only 56 per cent of young people gain an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) that allows competitive access to university. This is linked to student background, with socio-economic status having a strong effect.
  • Completion is linked to achievement in school. Only one in two of the lowest mathematics achievers (lowest decile) at age 15 completed Year 12 by age 19. For the highest achievers, 94.3 per cent had completed Year 12 by age 19.
  • Schools that serve largely middle-class populations do better on a range of scholastic and student outcomes. Those serving low socio-economic status communities do not do well. Segregation – the separation of populations along social, ethnic and racial lines – is a key driver.

Milestone 4: Engaged in education, training or work at age 24 #5

  • Young people who are not fully engaged in education or work are disproportionately female and from low socio-economic status backgrounds, located more often in regional and remote locations, and Indigenous.
  • Not completing Year 12 and not achieving well in school are predictors of later outcomes, though others are ‘under-attached’: despite completing Year 12 and engaging in some training and gaining some work experience, they have not progressed through further education courses or secured a stable attachment to the labour market.
  • Socio-economic background is a strong predictor of enrolment in university: two-thirds of young people from high socio-economic status backgrounds (highest quintile) enter university by their mid-20s, while only onequarter of those from disadvantaged backgrounds (lowest quintile) do. Students living in major urban areas of Australia are more likely to attend university than those living elsewhere.

I am pretty sure I covered all the most important and interesting parts from the key findings. There are already some really interesting finding and study will then goes into detail with massive amount of data. I will attempt to go through each main section and list some of the examples.

Reference: #1 to #5 Educational opportunity in Australia 2015

One more interesting study to share “Educational opportunity in Australia 2015 “

I was just browsing news and came across this “Educational opportunity in Australia 2015“. I have downloaded the study and reading it now, it is a 100 plus page work, so it will take me some time to fully digest and understand the information inside of it. However just by going over the executive summaries and key finding, it is already shaping up to be a very interesting read.

The results show the proportions succeeding and missing out at each stage (our best estimates, based on available data). They show about six in 10 or more of all children starting school get through early and middle childhood with the kinds of academic and social skills needed for later success. The same proportions complete school and are fully engaged in education or work by their mid-20s. For this large group of young Australians, school works well and they succeed across all stages. They make the most of the opportunities our education and training system provides. #1

We all know education in general is very beneficial and higher social economical background offers an advantage in this as well. What this study did is not only affirming this and applies some solid numbers and stats to it.

But what we learn from the patterns is that young people who are missing out can recover and gain ground. Being behind at any point need not be a life sentence, even for the disadvantaged, though even here the chances of recovery and of gaining ground are still in favour of students from more advantaged backgrounds. The most advantaged learners are not only less likely to fall below expected standards in the first place but more likely to catch up again if they do.#2

The study contained a treasure trove of information and I will keep posting as I am going through it. A quick browse already got me eager to read more of it, need to sleep less and read more :).



#1 & #2: Educational opportunity in Australia 2015

Continuation of discussion on why some racial groups seems to do better academically than the others

I wrote a blog entry on this about a week ago, Why some racial groups seem to do better than the others academically? I don’t feel I have fully explored this, it is a complex matter. I also have not personally wrote anything substantial in a long time and rather rustic at it right now.

I have read a follow up article on this topic and I think explored this topic further The truth about Asian Americans’ success (it’s not what you think). I think there is a lot truth in this, I also watched some of the Amy Chua’s video discussing her new book which relates to this topic, those are very interesting as well. BTW, I read her Tiger Mother book and it was a good read.

One thing that pointed in the article is that recent immigrants from East Asia tend to be highly educated and creates the phenomenon of what the author calls “Ethic Capital”. Basically what this means is that more highly educated and driven some of the members of a particular group is, more easily for the rest of the group to benefit from this knowledge. This is happening in Sydney as well, similar house which in the same suburb that fall into well know public school can command significant price premium, some example of this being Artarmon Public School, Murray Farm Public School etc.

Amy Chua also list what she called triple package that lend the drive for success for people

  1. Sense of Exceptionality
  2. Insecurity
  3. Impulse control

On the first item, given that very degree of education of east Asian immigrants, it is not a surprise that a lot of them are very successful and exceptional in their native country, certainly relates to the general population that is.

On second item, this is in my view very common in the new immigrant group, given the new environment they have to adapt to and succeed in quickly, it is not a surprise that there is a sense of insecurity. Also Asian countries are all very crowded and tend to highly competitive, whether that be university position, jobs etc. This creates a sense of insecurity and competitive natural.

On the third item, Chinese are very notorious with this, their whole culture evolve somewhat around this which the other East Asian countries have a lot of similarity to it as well.

Lastly I think because a lot of parents are  major beneficiary of education and have good impulse control themselves, they well understood what education can do for their children and try to instil the same qualities into their children as well. Whether some parents are over doing this and cause an entirely different problem is a different topic for another day.

Why some racial groups seem to do better than the others academically?

I have read the article What is the secret to Asian academic success? recently on SMH. What do you guys think, is this true? Article propose that some racial groups do better academically in America compare to the others. I only want to discuss this based on academicals performance not slide into the usual arguments people tend to slide into around this.

The racial groups make up between Australia and America is very different, yet there are a lot of similarities between two as well, particularly as a lot of minorities are recent immigrants. I think it is not a surprise for most to hear that a lot of Asians do well academically at all levels of schools in Australia. The question we need to ask is why that is case what drives them to excel academically. Also to clarify Asian in Australia generally referred as people from East and South East Asia majority of the time. Rest of part of Asian tend to be classified differently.

The article listed out a number of reasons why the author think that is the case, I will let you read those. Following is what I think what lead to Asian value Academical success highly.

  1. Asians in Australia almost always tend to be comparatively recent immigrants, as new immigrants they generally lack the social network that longer term residents enjoyed. Academicals success is the most easily measured and quantified compare to other areas. For many 1.5 and 2nd generation immigrants, the quickest path for upward social mobility is achieved through academic success.
  2. Education is valued highly in East Asia historically. Historically East Asian society is dominated by bureaucrats and the most common path to become one for common people is to pass the imperial examinations. This has create somewhat a culture that put a lot of emphasis with academic success and the pursuit of it.
  3. In my personal experience most of Asian parents in Australia whether due to their personal or cultural background pay great attention to their children’s education, this directly translate to academic success to a large degree. Certainly as in the article that very high percentage of the recent immigrants are highly educated and wish their children achieve the same success that they had.
  4. Competitive culture, I speculate due to the density and large size of population in East Asian, countries like Japan, Korea, China etc have been culturally very competitive. Tuition classes are in my view the most directly manifestation of this competitiveness.
  5. For better or worse many Asian parents wanted to see their children doing the best that they could with their abilities, whether that be academic or in other areas. I suspect this in large is due to the hardship many had endured in their own youth and do not wish their children having to do the same.

Asians do a lot of things that normal westerns may perceive to be extreme or borderline crazy in pursuit of better education/future for their children. One good example is purchase of properties that falls within the catchments of top ranked public schools, so their children could attend. Fortunately I suppose in Sydney that catchment for top public schools tend to fall into traditionally desirable suburbs to live as well.

With personal experience I think this large apply in the first to second generation, more generation the children has been in Australia less apparent this phenomenon is. Within a few generation this effect is much less so and most of Asian children performance in Academic aren’t that different compare to general population anymore.

Anyway enough of my ranting with things at work are crazy busy for me recently and hopefully will get more time to do updates soon.