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National Report on Schooling in Australia 2019
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2019 is the thirty-first national annual report on Australia’s school education sector. It has been produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) on behalf of Australian education ministers, meeting as the COAG Education Council.
The report highlights progress in 2019 towards the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians agreed by Australian education ministers in 2008, and is the eleventh report to address these nationally agreed goals and commitments. Future reports will address the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration, which commences from January, 2020.
The National Report on Schooling in Australia 2019 consists of two parts: this written report and the online National Report on Schooling data portal.
The written report addresses the eight areas of commitment to action specified in the Melbourne Declaration, describes the national policy and reporting context for school education in Australia and reports against the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling, including providing data, analysis and commentary. It also includes other high-level statistical information on Australian schooling in 2019 and for the eleven-year period 2009–2019 inclusive.
The online National Report on Schooling data portal provides readers and researchers with interactive access to a wider range of nationally consistent data on schooling in Australia. These include data on enrolments, staffing, and school funding, and on the KPMs for student participation, achievement in the National Assessment Program, and attainment of Year 12 and post-school qualifications. The data portal allows readers to view data by state and territory as well as at the national level, by calendar year and by other breakdowns, such as school sector, gender and Indigenous status where possible and appropriate. Data sets are regularly updated as new data becomes available and may be downloaded from the portal.
Previous editions of the National Report on Schooling in Australia for the years 2009–2018 are available on the ACARA website. Editions from 1989 to 2008 are archived on Trove.
Part 1, ‘Schools and schooling’, provides information on the status of Australian schooling in 2019, including school, student and teacher numbers, school structures, and funds used for school education.
In Australia, responsibility for school education rests mainly with the six state and two territory governments.
All states and territories provide for 13 years of formal school education. Primary education, including a foundation year, lasts for either seven or eight years and is followed by secondary education of six or five years respectively. Typically, schooling commences at age five, is compulsory from age six until age 17 (with provision for alternative study or work arrangements in the senior secondary years), and is completed at age 17 or 18. School structures and age requirements in states and territories are summarised in part 1.4.
The majority – 70.1 per cent – of schools are government schools, established and administered by state and territory governments through their education departments or authorities. The remaining 29.9 per cent are non-government schools, mostly associated with religious organisations. Non-government schools are established and operated under conditions determined by state and territory governments through their registration authorities. School numbers are shown in part 1.1.
Around two-thirds (65.7 per cent) of school students are enrolled in government schools and approximately one-third (34.3 per cent) in non-government schools. Part 1.2 reports on numbers of students by school sector, state and territory, and Indigenous status.
Staff numbers closely reflect enrolments, with 63.5 per cent of school teachers employed by the government school sector and 36.5 per cent by non-government schools. Part 1.3 reports on teaching staff numbers and student/teacher ratios by school sector and state and territory.
School, student and teacher numbers in 2019 are shown for Australia, and by state and territory in figure 1.
Schools are funded through a combination of state/territory government funding, Australian government funding, fees and charges and other parental/private contributions.
In 2018‒19, total recurrent government funding for schooling was $65.6 billion. This was made up of $45.7 billion (69.7 per cent) from state and territory budgets and $19.9 (30.3 per cent) from the Australian Government (Commonwealth) budget.
Overall, 75.8 per cent of recurrent government funding was allocated to government schools and 24.2 per cent to non-government schools. The bulk (91.7 per cent) of state and territory funds was allocated to government schools; the majority (60.9 per cent) of Australian Government funds was allocated to non-government schools. School funding data and arrangements are reported in part 1.5.
Figure 1: Number of schools, students and teachers by state and territory, Australia, 2019
Part 2, ‘Policies and priorities’, outlines the national policy context for Australian schooling in 2019 and reports against the commitments to action agreed by Australian education ministers in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians.
Part 2.1 of this report summarises the national policy context for schooling, including the roles of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and the COAG Education Council in deciding agreed national policy and initiatives for education.
Two major national policy developments in school education occurred in 2019:
- Education Council conducted a review of the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, including widespread consultation. In December 2019, education ministers released a new national goal declaration, the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration, to replace the Melbourne Declaration from January 2020.
- A new National School Reform Agreement, agreed by the Australian and all state and territory governments, came into operation in January 2019.Part 2.1 outlines the main features of these major policy developments.
- Part 2.2 outlines the goals and commitments contained in the Melbourne Declaration and the COAG targets for education.
Parts 2.3–2.10 report on national progress in implementing the Melbourne Declaration commitments to action with a focus on developments in 2019. They also list examples of state and territory initiatives relating to the commitments.
Progress towards the commitments to action reported for 2019 includes:
- A formal partnership agreement between a coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peak organisations and all Australian governments was established to finalise a revised framework for Closing the Gap.
- States and territories implemented new and continuing partnerships with industry and the community to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
- States and territories implemented initiatives to improve and support school leadership, for early childhood education, and to support senior secondary schooling and youth transitions.
- In line with the National School Reform Agreement, work began to explore how learning progressions and formative assessment can enhance the capacity of teachers to make evidence-based decisions about their students’ learning.
- Education Council agreed to bring forward a review of the Australian Curriculum for Foundation – Year 10 to ensure it is meeting the needs of students.
- The twelfth annual tests in literacy and numeracy for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 were conducted through the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN). Nationally, around 50 cent of students participating in NAPLAN undertook the tests online in 2019.
- The sixth NAP sample assessment in Civics and Citizenship for Year 6 and Year 10 students was conducted online, incorporating aspects of the Australian Curriculum: History for the first time.
- The My School website was updated in March and November/December 2019. Following the NAPLAN Reporting Review, ministers agreed that the focus of NAPLAN reporting on My School will move from school averages to progress made by students.
- The Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia was reviewed and endorsed for the period 2019‒2023, with the addition of proficiency standards for NAPLAN, subject to further approval by ministers. The Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2019 is used as the basis of KPMs in this report.
- As agreed in the National School Reform Agreement, Education Council committed to establish a new National Evidence Institute that will translate educational research to support classroom practice.
Part 3, ‘Measuring and reporting performance’, reports on the performance of Australian schooling in 2019, using the nationally agreed key performance measures (KPMs) for schooling specified in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2019.
Part 3 reports on 19 of the 32 agreed KPMs relevant to 2019 along with, in some cases, associated COAG targets. The measures are reported at the national level, and by various breakdowns, such as state and territory, school sector, school year and Indigenous status. For relevant KPMs, time series for the previous ten years 2009–2018 since the Melbourne Declaration are also included. Where relevant breakdowns or time series are not reported in part 3, they are provided in the National Report on Schooling data portal, along with extensive statistical information on schooling in Australia.
Data reported for 2019 includes that:
- The average national attendance rate for students in Years 1–10 was 91.4 per cent. Average attendance rates were higher for Years 1–6 than for Years 7–10.
- At 81.5 per cent, the average attendance rate for Indigenous students was 10.5 percentage points lower than for non-Indigenous students (92.0 per cent). There was an increase in this gap of 0.3 percentage points in 2019.
- Nearly three quarters (73.1 per cent) of all Australian students in Years 1–10 attended school for at least 90 per cent of school days. However, less than half (46.9 per cent) of Indigenous students within this group met the 90 per cent benchmark.
- NAPLAN participation rates were over 95 per cent for each of Years 3, 5 and 7. At 92.6 per cent, the Year 9 participation rate was lower than for other years.
- The proportion of students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in NAPLAN tests was over 90 per cent for all year groups tested in reading, and for Years 3 and 5 in writing. The proportion of students achieving at or above the national minimum standard in NAPLAN numeracy tests was over 94 per cent for all year groups tested.
- At 52.8 per cent, the proportion of Year 6 students achieving at or above the national proficient standard in NAP – Civics and Citizenship was statistically similar to when this sample assessment was last conducted in 2016. Only 38.4 per cent of Year 10 students achieved the proficient standard. This was also statistically similar to the result for the 2016 cohort.
- Samples of Year 4 and Year 8 students took part in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2019. There was a significant increase in the proportion of Year 8 students achieving the national proficient standard in science since this assessment was last conducted in 2015.
- The national apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 decreased by 0.8 percentage points to 82.0 per cent. The apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students decreased by 2.6 percentage points to 60.0 per cent, with the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates rising to 23.2 percentage points. These changes were not statistically significant. However, the long-term trends since 2010 in apparent retention rates from Year 10 to Year 12 are upward for all students and for Indigenous students.
- The proportion of 15–19-year-olds who were fully engaged in education, training or employment, as measured by the ABS Survey of Education and Work, decreased significantly from 88.6 per cent in 2018 to 87.0 per cent in 2019. However, with an average annual increase of 0.3 percentage points since 2008, the long-term trend in this measure is upward.
- The proportion of the 20–24-year-old population that has attained at least Year 12 or equivalent or AQF Certificate III or above, as measured by the ABS Survey of Education and Work, decreased (but not significantly) from 88.8 per cent in 2018 to 88.2 per cent in 2019. The long-term trend in this measure (of 0.5 percentage points per annum since 2008) is upward.
Table 1 summarises the KPMs for 2019 in comparison with 2018 (or the most recent previous year for which comparable data exists). This is expressed as the short-term change to each KPM.
For the first time in the national report, table 1 also summarises longer-term trends in the movement of KPMs. This data demonstrates that while small changes in KPMs from year to year are rarely statistically significant, successive increments over time may result in measurable long-term trends.
Table 1: Key performance measures for schooling, Australia, 2018–19 and long-term trends
Notes on Table 1:
Measures of short-term change in table 1 have been tested for statistical significance:
↑ means the increase in the measure in 2019 was statistically significant / the long-term trend was positive / upward
↓ means the decrease in the measure in 2019 was statistically significant / the long-term trend was negative / downward
↔ means the change in the measure in 2019 was not statistically significant / a long-term trend was not evident.
N/A means not applicable:
KPM 1(a). From 2019, the annual measure of the enrolment rate drawn from the NSSC is not reported as a measure of KPM 1(a) Enrolment. KPM 1(a) will continue to be reported for census years using data drawn from the Census of Population and Housing.
KPM 1(c). 2018 was the first year for which data on student attendance levels could be collected for NSW government schools. This causes a break in series for the national measure of KPM 1(c) between 2017 and 2018. The two years of data available since this break is insufficient to provide trend data for this KPM at the national level.
KPMs 3(d) and 4(c). Trend data is not available for TIMSS
* 2018 or the most recent previous year for which comparable data is available. For TIMSS this is 2015. For NAP– Civics and Citizenship this is 2016.
With the exception of mean scale scores for NAPLAN, all KPMs are expressed as percentages. NAPLAN mean scale scores are expressed as points on the NAPLAN scale.
Where possible, measures are expressed to one decimal place.
Long-term trends for each KPM are shown for the period (at least 3 years) over which comparable data is available. Trends are calculated from the line of best fit in a graph of all relevant data in a time series. The average annual change is calculated from the line of best fit and a test is performed to determine if a trend is evident.
For NAPLAN measures, this differs from the comparisons between calendar years published in the 2019 NAPLAN National Report and on the NAPLAN results page of the ACARA NAP website, which are comparisons between two points in time rather than trends over time.
With the exception of mean scale scores for NAPLAN, the average annual change over the trend period is expressed as percentage points. For NAPLAN mean scale scores, the average annual change over the trend period is expressed as points on the NAPLAN scale.
Trend data by state and territory, and by other disaggregations where possible and appropriate, is provided in the Key Performance Measures data set in the National Report on Schooling data portal.