Fighting for Equity in Education

The struggle is long but hope is longer

NAPLAN Report Shows Little Progress in Reducing Inequity in Education

Saturday April 9, 2016

This is a summary of a new SOS research brief. The full version can be downloaded below

The national report on the NAPLAN results for 2015 published last December shows continuing large inequities in education in Australia. Large proportions of disadvantaged students are not achieving national standards in literacy and numeracy and there are large achievement gaps between disadvantaged and advantaged students, most of which have not changed since 2008 and some have increased.

Large proportions of disadvantaged students are below national standards
Students from low education families (LES) are nine times more likely than students from high education status families (HES) to not achieve the Year 5 national reading standard and seven times more likely to not achieve the writing and numeracy standards:
• 18 per cent of Year 5 students from LES families did not achieve the reading standard, 20 per cent did not achieve the writing standard and 14 per cent did not achieve the numeracy standard compared with two to three per cent of students from HES families.

Students from LES families are nine times more likely than students from HES families to not achieve the Year 9 national reading standard, five times more likely to not achieve the writing standard and 11 times more likely to not achieve the numeracy standard:
• 18 per cent of Year 9 LES students did not achieve the national reading standard, 39 per cent did not achieve the writing standard and 11 per cent did not achieve the numeracy standard compared to one to two per cent of HES students in reading and numeracy and eight per cent for writing.

Indigenous Year 5 students are 13 times more likely to not achieve the reading standard, 11 times more likely to not achieve the writing standard and 10 times more likely to not achieve the numeracy standard than students from HES families:
• 26 per cent of Year 5 Indigenous students did not achieve the reading standard, 32 per cent did not achieve the writing standard and 21 per cent did not achieve the numeracy standard.

Indigenous Year 9 students are 14 times more likely to not achieve the reading standard, seven times more likely to not achieve the writing standard and 17 times more likely to not achieve the numeracy standard than students from HES families:
• 28 per cent of Year 9 Indigenous students did not achieve the reading standard, 54 per cent did not achieve the writing standard and 17 per cent did not achieve the numeracy standard.

Massive proportions of students from LES families, Indigenous students and remote area students did not achieve the Year 9 writing standard – 39, 54 and 38 per cent respectively.

There was a small reduction in the proportion of LES students below the Year 5 reading and numeracy standards since 2008, but the proportion below the writing standard increased since 2011. There were significant increases in the proportion below the Year 9 reading and writing standards.

There was a large increase in the proportion of Indigenous students below the Year 9 writing standard since 2011.

NAPLAN scores for disadvantaged students have mostly not improved
Average reading, writing and numeracy scores for students from LES families at all Year levels have not improved since 2008 or 2009.

There were large declines of up to a year or more of learning in writing results for LES, Indigenous and remote area secondary school students since 2011.

Large achievement gaps have mostly not reduced
Year 5 LES and remote area students are about two years behind HES students in reading, writing and numeracy. By Year 9 LES are 4 years behind in reading, writing and numeracy and remote area students are 3½ times behind.

Year 5 Indigenous students are about three years behind HES students in reading and nearly three years behind in writing and numeracy. Year 9 Indigenous students are about five years behind in reading and numeracy and six years behind in writing.

Year 9 LES students are achieving at about the same level as Year 5 HES students in reading and writing and only slightly above in numeracy. Year 9 Indigenous students are achieving below Year 5 HES students in reading and writing and about the same as Year 5 students in numeracy.

The achievement gap between HES and LES students increased significantly in reading and numeracy in Year 5 and in Year 9 reading since 2008. There was little change in the achievement gaps between HES students and Indigenous and remote area students.

Few significant improvements
There were few significant improvements in results. The most notable were:
• The percentage of Indigenous students below the Year 5 reading and numeracy standards fell by ten and nine percentage points respectively between 2008 and 2015 while the percentage below the Year 9 numeracy standard fell by ten points;
• A significant increase in average reading scores for Indigenous primary school students since 2008 and in Year 9 numeracy since 2013;
• A significant increase in the average reading score for Year 3 remote area students since 2008 and in Year 9 since 2013.

Inadequate funding for disadvantaged students
A primary factor behind the lack of progress in reducing inequity in education outcomes is the failure of government funding policies over the past decade. Government funding (Commonwealth and state/territory) increases have favoured private schools for the past 15 years, and who enrol only a small proportion of disadvantaged students.

Government funding per private school student increased by over double that for public schools between 1999-2000 and 2013-14 — 39 per cent compared to 17 per cent. The average annual increase for private schools was 2.2 per cent compared with only 1.0 per cent in public schools.

Yet, public schools enrol over 80 per cent of LES, Indigenous and remote area students. Equity in education will only improve by better directing government funding increases to disadvantaged students.

NAPLAN Report Shows Little Progress in Reducing Inequity in Education.pdf

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