Chris Ryan from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research [Melbourne Institute] published an excellent paper in the Economics of Education Review in 2013 that is an important contribution to the highly charged debate surrounding the question of student achievement in the Programme for International Student Assessment. [PISA].
The research reminds us that Australian school student achievement in reading and mathematical literacy has fallen in the PISA studies since 2000. Ryan states:
This study finds that these declines were widespread in the student population, affecting both males and females. However, the decline in reading literacy occurred throughout much of the achievement distribution, while the decline in mathematical literacy was more pronounced at the top of the distribution (there were fewer high performing students in 2009 compared with 2003). Declines in both literacy domains were apparent across the entire distribution of schools, however, the falls in school performance were more apparent in private schools than in the government-run school systems in Australia. The declines were not associated with many other characteristics of schools, including many factors that might have been thought to be associated with school performance.
The work encourages nuanced consideration by all when considering the notion of achievement decline and thus the implications for [multiple] policy responses. Ryan’s findings in relation to school performance showed that the decline in performance occurred in private schools that had received substantial increases in public funding. He rightly points out this appears to confirm/support other research that suggests the
impact of resources on school achievement is, at best, quite modest.
Certainly this paper is a solid contribution to the debate around student achievement, “Gonski” funding and the broader debates around education budgets and all those involved in the field should familiarise themselves with this research.
- Economics of Education Review – Science Direct [Purchase]
- Melbourne Institute
- Associate Professor Chris Ryan