Fighting for Equity in Education

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Public Schools Do Just as Well as Private Schools in NAPLAN

Sunday January 18, 2015

A new research paper from Save Our Schools shows that the often-presumed superior test results of private schools compared to public schools is a myth. Public, Catholic and Independent schools with a similar socio-economic composition (as measured by the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage or ICSEA) have very similar results in nearly all states.

The paper compares the average Year 9 reading results published on the My School website for public, Catholic and Independent schools in metropolitan areas for high, medium and low ICSEA values in all jurisdictions except the Northern Territory.

Medium ICSEA (ICSEA 950-1099) public, Catholic and Independent schools generally achieve similar results. Mostly, there are only minor differences between the average results of school sectors that are within the margin of statistical error. Medium ICSEA schools account for 60-70 per cent of all schools in all states except the ACT.

Public schools in the two highest ICSEA bands (1150-1199 and 1200+) in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia have significantly higher results than Catholic and Independent schools in these states while the comparative results are similar in Queensland. These are the only states where all sectors have schools in these ICSEA bands. The results of public, Catholic and Independent schools in the other high ICSEA band (1100-1149) are similar.

Little can be made of comparisons of results for low ICSEA (800-949) schools because there are very few Catholic and Independent schools of this type as low socio-economic communities are largely served by public schools.

State comparisons
New South Wales
High ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1100-1149.
• Public school results are significantly above Independent schools with ICSEA values of 1150+ (no Catholic schools in this category).

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools, except in ICSEA range 950-999 where Catholic schools have a higher average than Independent schools.

Low ICSEA schools:
• Independent schools have higher results than public schools in the ICSEA range 900-949.
• No Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

Victoria
High ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1100-1149.
• Public school results are significantly above Catholic and Independent schools with ICSEA values of 1150-1199 (no public or Catholic schools at 1200+).

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools.

Low ICSEA schools:
• Public schools have similar results to Independent schools in the ICSEA range 900-949, but Catholic schools have higher results than both sectors.
• No Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

Queensland
High ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1100-1199 (no public or Catholic schools at 1200+).

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1050-1099.
• Independent schools have slightly higher results than public and Catholic schools in ICSEA range 1000-1049.
• Public schools have significantly better results than Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 950-999.

Low ICSEA schools:
• Public school results have significantly higher results than Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 900-949.
• No Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

Western Australia
High ICSEA schools:
• Public school results exceed Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1150-1200+.
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1100-1149.

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools in ICSEA range 1000-1099.
• Public and Catholic school results are similar in ICSEA range 950-999 and significantly higher than Independent schools.

Low ICSEA schools:
• No Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-949.

South Australia
High ICSEA schools:
• Public school results are significantly above Catholic and Independent schools with ICSEA values of 1100-1149 (no public schools with ICSEA values of 1150-1200+)

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Similar results for public, Catholic and Independent schools with ICSEA values of 1000-1099.
• Catholic school results exceed public schools in the ICSEA range 950-999 (no Independent schools in this category).

Low ICSEA schools:
• Catholic school results exceed public schools in the ICSEA range 900-949 (no Independent schools in this category).
• No public, Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

Tasmania
High ICSEA schools:
• Public and Catholic schools have similar results in the ICSEA range 1000-1149, but those of Independent schools are significantly higher.
• No public and Catholic schools in the ICSEA range 1100-1200+

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Independent school results are well above public schools in the ICSEA range 950-999 (no Catholic schools in this category).
• No public schools in the ICSEA range 1000-1099.

Low ICSEA schools:
• Independent school results are higher than public schools in the ICSEA range 900-949 (no Catholic schools in this category).
• No Catholic or Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

ACT
High ICSEA schools:
• Public and Independent schools have similar results in the ICSEA range 1100-1149 and which are significantly higher than Catholic schools.
• No comparisons are possible in the ICSEA range 1150-1200+

Medium ICSEA schools:
• Public schools have similar results to Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 1050-1099 (no Catholic or Independent schools in ICSEA range 950-1049).

Low ICSEA schools:
• No public, Catholic and Independent schools in the ICSEA range 800-899.

Trevor Cobbold

Public Schools Do as Well as Private Schools.pdf

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