A must read for everyone concerned about education and equity: PISA identifies challenges for Australian education.
Two sections in the summary stand out for me (emphasis mine):
Twenty-eight per cent of students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile were not achieving Level 2 in mathematical literacy, compared to five per cent of students in the highest socioeconomic quartile. Only six per cent of students in the lowest socioeconomic quartile achieved Level 5 or above, compared with 29 per cent of students in the highest socioeconomic quartile.
The performance of students with higher levels of socioeconomic background in reading literacy was one full proficiency level above that of students from lower levels of socioeconomic background, or the equivalent of nearly three years of schooling.The different in our school sectors is described:
The effect of aggregated high levels of socioeconomic background can be seen in Australia’s school system, in which we have many children of parents with high socioeconomic backgrounds pooled into the independent school sector and to a lesser extent, the Catholic sector. The advantage that these schools have in terms of this pooling of resources is demonstrated by the fact that, after adjusting for student and school socioeconomic background, there are no significant differences between the results of students in government schools and those in independent schools. Of course, we do not live in a world where such adjustments are made, and so more must be done to address the level of resourcing in schools that the majority of Australian students attend.Does it have to be this way? Well not if you live in Canada or Finland. While we could argue that Finland is a very different society than Australia, can we dismiss the comparison to Canada so quickly?