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Educational outcomes of young Indigenous Australians

Improved educational outcomes are seen as a key lever for addressing the disadvantage faced by Indigenous Australians. While there have been some improvements in educational participation and achievement rates in recent years – for example, the year 12 apparent retention rate for Indigenous students has risen from 38.0% in 2002 to 51.1% in 2012 (Karmel et al., forthcoming) – apparent retention rates remain a crude indicator of educational achievement.

A new research project funded by the NCSEHE and led by National Institute of Labour Studies* (NILS) Director Professor Kostas Mavromaras is looking to more informative indicators such as ATAR, and the proportions of students going on to university or vocational education and training and gaining tertiary qualifications, to track educational outcomes.

Professor Mavromaras says:

“Our project begins by comparing the education pathways of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students using information on two cohorts of students, aged 15 in the years 2006 and 2009 respectively. We will measure the extent of educational achievement and disadvantage at age 15, and then continue and measure subsequent education achievement and early labour market outcomes, conditional on earlier (starting from age 15) outcomes.

Our objective is to unpack the influence of earlier experiences and achievements from later ones in order to identify the stages at which disadvantage arises along the pathway to the labour market. We want to understand the extent to which improvements in earlier educational outcomes in the form of PISA scores are being translated into increased year 12 completion rates, larger proportions of students requesting an ATAR, improved ATAR scores and consequently widened tertiary education participation and more (and better) qualifications.

Our previous analyses suggested that PISA scores increased between 2006 and 2009 for Indigenous students. This project will focus on whether these improvements are resulting in better education pathway and outcomes, all the way to obtaining a post-school qualification. The sequential design of the analysis will identify where and when along the educational pathway, government policy may be most efficient and effective in reducing social disadvantage.”

Professor Mavromaras’ project will build upon earlier work undertaken by NILS for the Gonski Review of School Funding, and work published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) focusing on the impact of schools on the transition to university. The project is expected to be completed by the end of April 2015, after which time a final report will be published here on the NCSEHE website.

*NILS is an autonomous research institute within the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences at Flinders University.

Professor Kostas Mavromaras is Director of the National Institute of Labour Studies at Flinders University. Between 2005 and 2009 he was Director of Labour Economics and Social Policy and Professor at the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research. He wasemployed at the University of Aberdeen between 2000 and 2005, where he was also Director of the Centre for European Labour Market Research, and prior to that at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1991-2000). He is a Research Fellow of the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation, IZA and the Manchester School. Professor Mavromaras has consulted to governments widely at the international level (Germany, UK, Greece, EU, OECD) and, since 2005 within Australia (including DEEWR, NCVER, DoHA, DSS, AWPA, DVA, DFEEST and others), on issues relating to labour markets and social policy. Professor Mavromaras sits on several National Advisory Boards, including the ABS Labour Statistics and is currently the President of the Australian Society of Labour Economists.

Posted 26 June 2014 Posted in General, Indigenous