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The State of NAPLAN - Where you live has a bearing on how students perform

Posted on 29 October 2018
The State of NAPLAN - Where you live has a bearing on how students perform
Could the success of a school student depend not on whether they go to a public or private school, but simply on where they live?

That's the suggestion of think tank the Grattan Institute after it took a (very thorough) look at NAPLAN data.

"We've looked at how much students are learning from one test to the next and tried to understand where students are making the most progress," report author and education commentator Peter Goss said.

The TL;DR version of the Grattan Institute report card:

  • Queensland got top marks in primary school
  • New South Wales was "not so good at supporting disadvantaged students"
  • Some of the country's smaller education systems performed above the national average
  • Victoria did "not do as well" when it came to extending advantaged students
  • There is little difference in student progress among Catholic, independent and public schools
  • The Grattan Institute used NAPLAN data to map how students were progressing through their schooling, not just individual results at one point in time.

To look at the schools side-by-side, the Grattan Institute compared them to a national benchmark, or average. That average is: 12 months of growth for every 12 months of schooling.

Let's look at how each state and territory performed.

Victoria

Victoria has a long history of supporting students who are considered disadvantaged and in this report card those students make four months more progress than the national average for students in years 7 and 9.

But for students who are advantaged, the Grattan Institute found the state did not do well at extending them.

New South Wales

In NSW, the story is better for those students considered advantaged.

What about mum and dad?

According to the Grattan Institute:
In Victoria, students whose parents were educated to year 11 or below reached a level of numeracy about five months ahead of similar students in NSW by year 9.
But, Victorian students whose parents were educated to a bachelor degree or higher were sitting about 10 months behind their NSW peers by year 9.
The state does well at extending gifted students, but struggles to provide support to disadvantaged students in secondary school.

Talented students in the state are "systematically identified, grouped and accelerated", according to the report card.

"NSW teachers receive extra support on how to teach gifted students, including specific teaching materials and professional learning," it said.

Mr Goss:

"The most worrying message is within every state and territory that the students who are making the least progress, are those in disadvantaged schools."

Queensland

Here we are at the top of the class.

In Queensland, children in years 3 and 5 are about two months ahead of the average in reading.

Those same students are one month ahead of the national average when it comes to numeracy.

"This story is consistent across all school sectors (government, Catholic and independent), although it is most obvious for government schools," the report card noted.

So, what's going on in Queensland primary schools?

There was a bit of a "shock" in 2008 when Queensland was one of the lowest performing education systems, ranked behind the Northern Territory.

Since then, there have been major reviews and reforms around NAPLAN.

South Australia

If your primary school-aged child goes to school in South Australia, they are likely to be a month behind the national average in numeracy and reading.

The Grattan Institute report card said students in SA were "consistently at the lower end of the national spread".

And even among "educationally advantaged schools", there were very few high performers.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is sitting at the bottom of the class, and according to the Grattan analysis, it really shouldn't be.

"The ACT has very high achievement because its students come from advantaged backgrounds; mostly their parents are well educated, mostly they're in good jobs," Mr Goss said.

"Once you compare those the ACT schools to other similar schools, it doesn't look nearly as good."

Like SA primary students, those in the ACT "consistently make less progress in numeracy and reading compared to similar schools in other states".

In a "worrying trend", the ACT system is getting worse, falling further behind the national average in recent years, according to the Grattan report card.

The 2010-12 cohort made around two months' less progress than the national average in numeracy
The 2014-16 cohort made five months' less progress than the national average in numeracy and four month less in reading
And while ACT high school students are high achieving, they are, on average, more advantaged and when you take that into account, the territory "trails the national average considerably in student progress".

The ACT's Education Minister, Yvette Berry, said the recommendations in the Grattan report aligned with work already being implemented to lift performance in ACT schools.

Tasmania

It may be small, but, when you consider the lower average socio-economic average in Tasmania, it's not an underperformer.

"This result suggests their schools are not, on average, doing a bad job," the Grattan report said.

After adjusting for disadvantage, Tasmania makes similar progress to the national average in all areas bar one secondary writing.

In that subject, Tasmanian students perform "well above average".

Northern Territory

Like Tasmania, the Northern Territory has some work to do, but "contrary to popular perception", it's not an underperformer.

In fact, the report card said the NT was "doing a tough job well".

"The report shows that their students progress broadly in line with students in similar schools in other states," the Grattan Institute said.

Mr Goss: "They have to educate far more students who are from disadvantaged families, and in the NT also there are so many school that are very remote and have very high Indigenous populations."

Western Australia

In Western Australia, primary students sit just above the national average for numeracy, reading and writing from years 3 to 5.

In reading, WA students progressed better than students from NSW, Vic, SA and the ACT.

The national concern: disadvantaged students

So, looking at the benchmark of 12 months of progress for 12 months of school, Mr Goss said, as a nation, we've got some catching up to do.

"If we compare students who are in pretty high-achieving schools, that are already doing well, versus students in pretty low-achieving schools, in mathematics or in numeracy, the low-achieving schools are only making half as much progress as the high-achieving schools," he said.

That means disadvantaged students are making about 1.5 years of progress every two years, compared to students at high-achieving schools who are making three years of progress every two years.

"In our analysis, when you look at achievement levels, the socioeconomic background of the students is about twice as important as anything associated with the school," Mr Goss said.

 

From: ABC.net.au

By national education reporter Natasha Robinson and the Specialist Reporting

Tags: ACARA

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