Apparent retention

Apparent retention rates by state and territory and school sector
Apparent retention rates, time series
Apparent retention rates by Indigenous status and state/territory by year range and school sector
Apparent retention dataset
Notes and caveats

Apparent retention rates estimate the progression of students through school over several years through several year levels.

Key Performance Measure 1(e) Apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12

This information relates to Part 3 of the National Report on Schooling in Australia.

Apparent retention dataset

Download the Apparent retention dataset

Notes and caveats

    • Data is drawn from the National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC) collected in August each year and published in ABS, Schools, Australia.
    • In 2020, restrictions due to COVID-19 may have impacted on NSSC enrolment data, and thus on the numerator of 2020 rates. However, students who were learning remotely, or whose schooling was temporarily disrupted due to COVID-19 at the time of the collection were included in the count. Overall, it is estimated that the impacts of COVID-19 on the data were minor. For further details see Schools Australia 2020.
    • Until 2018, Key Performance Measure 1(e) was defined as: Apparent retention rates from Year 10 to Year 12 (Indigenous school students compared to non-Indigenous school students). From 2019, Key Performance Measure 1(e) is defined as: Apparent retention rate from Year 10 to Year 12. Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent retention rates continue to be reported as a disaggregation of the KPM.
    • The apparent retention rate is an indicative measure of the number of full-time school students in a designated year level of schooling as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year. For example, the apparent retention rate for Year 10 – Year 12, 2018, is the number of students in Year 12 2018 as a percentage of the number of students in that cohort in Year 10 in 2016 (the base year), two years earlier. Part-time and ungraded students are not included in calculations of apparent retention rates.
    • Apparent retention rates for Year 7/8 - Year 9, Year 7/8 - Year 10, Year 7/8 - Year 11 and Year 7/8 - Year 12 measure the apparent retention rate from the first year of secondary schooling (Year 7 or Year 8, depending on jurisdiction) to a later year of schooling. Up to and including 2016, the base year for these calculations was Year 8 for Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and Year 7 for other states and territories.
    • In 2015, the structure of schooling in Queensland and Western Australia changed, with Year 7 becoming the first year of secondary schooling, whereas previously it was Year 8. For those apparent retention rates using the first year of secondary education as the base year, this will progressively impact both state specific rates for Queensland and Western Australia, and national rates calculated from 2017 onwards. While some non-government schools transitioned in 2019, and three government schools transitioned in 2020 to a new structure of Year 7 being the start of high school, Year 8 remained as the base cohort for calculating rates for students commencing secondary school in South Australia.
    • In 2020, support students in New South Wales Government mainstream schools were recorded against their grade of enrolment for the first time, to be more aligned with national counting rules. Only students in Schools for Specific Purposes (SSP) are now recorded as ungraded. Care should be taken when comparing with previous years as enrolments by grades will be higher than previously due to the revised methodology.
    • The ABS publishes both capped apparent retention rates, which are capped at 100 per cent, and uncapped apparent retention rates. This report publishes uncapped rates.
    • It is not currently possible to calculate actual retention rates. There are a number of reasons why apparent rates may differ from actual rates, why they may differ between states and territories and between school sectors, and why apparent retention rates by state and/or sector may exceed 100 per cent. These reasons include, but are not limited to:
      • students progressing at a faster or slower than the expected rate of one school year/grade per year
      • students changing between full-time or part-time study
      • migration (interstate/international)
      • students changing schools across state/territory boundaries
      • students transferring between school sectors
      • enrolment policies, which contribute to different age/year level structures between states and territories, and age/year level requirements for leaving school
      • the availability of approved alternatives to senior schooling, which may vary across states and territories
    • Categories used in tables and graphs showing "school sector" are "government", "Catholic" and "independent". In some tables, the category "total non-government" (total of Catholic and independent data) is also used.
    • In Schools Australia, and in this publication, Catholic non-systemic schools are counted as Catholic rather than as independent.
    • See Glossary for definition of school sector and Indigenous status and for further information on apparent retention rates and the NSSC.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia

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