PISA results highlight gap in Australian education system - Education Matters Magazine
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PISA results highlight gap in Australian education system

The 2022 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has found Australian students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to fall behind in maths, science and reading.

The PISA assessment highlights that Australia has a good education system, but it can be a lot better and fairer.

The results show on average, 15-year-olds from poor families are around five years of schooling behind their counterparts.

Indigenous students are around four years of schooling behind non-Indigenous students and students from regional and remote areas are at a disadvantage compared with students from the cities.

These outcomes are similar to the recent NAPLAN results and recent findings from the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO).

This again highlights the importance of fixing the funding gap and this education gap in Australian schools, Minister for Education Jason Clare said.

“Australia has a good education system, but it can be a lot better and fairer, and these results again highlight this. Students from poor families, Indigenous students and students from the regional areas are more likely to need additional support,” he said.

“We have to fix the funding gap and fix this education gap. That’s why I want the school funding agreement we negotiate next year to tie funding to the sort of things that help children who fall behind to catch up, keep up and finish school.”

Mathematics was the major focus of this PISA cycle, and after falling level with the OECD average in 2018, Australia is now back above the average overall.

PISA measures 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges and is not based on the curriculum.

More than 690,000 students from 81 countries took part in PISA 2022, including a representative sample of 13,437 Australian 15-year-old students from 743 schools.

Australian students demonstrate resilience, ASPA says

The Australian Secondary Principals Association (ASPA) has commended Australia’s students, teachers and school leaders for the resilience demonstrated in the latest PISA results.

It pointed out that while most OECD countries saw significant declines in maths and science performance due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s results stabilised, with slight improvements in its ranking among top performing countries.

“These results highlight the incredible efforts of our educators to support students through two extremely difficult years of disruption. That we have held our ground while others slipped backwards is a testament to the skill and dedication of Australia’s teaching workforce,” ASPA president Mr Andy Mison said.

There are also positive signs around students’ sense of belonging and experiences of bullying. Measures of belonging improved since 2018, while bullying decreased by five per cent.

However, the socioeconomic gap in achievement remains a major concern. Students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds continue to substantially outperform those from lower backgrounds, ASPA noted.

“Equity must be the number one priority in Australian education,” Mr Mison said.

“We need a co-ordinated effort across all education systems to target resources where they are needed most. The goal must be to lift the performance of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

With the top performing countries in PISA showing what’s possible, ASPA believes Australia can aim higher.

The association said that by focusing efforts on transforming investment into teaching and learning where it is needed most, system coherence and supporting school leaders and their communities Australia can close the equity gap and improve outcomes for all students.

“Singapore, Japan, Estonia and other high performers show investing in teachers, reducing complexity and targeting disadvantage makes a real difference. Australia has all the building blocks in place to match global leaders in education. The latest PISA results prove our students and educators have what it takes to get there,” Mr Mison said.

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