Few tragedies can be more extensive than the stunting of life, few injustices deeper than the denial of an opportunity to strive or even to hope, by a limit imposed from without, but falsely identified as lying within.
Stephen Jay Gould
The equity gap in educational outcomes between more and less advantaged Australian schools is wider than in most similar countries, and contributes to Australia falling behind comparable nations. That led to Gonski and the wide community and political support it enjoys.
It is Gonski bedrock that young people in every community in Tasmania should have an equal chance of gaining their Yr 12 qualification compared with students in other Tasmanian communities or indeed in other states. New data from MySchool, and the Office of Tasmanian Assessment, Standards and Certification (TASC), allows us to benchmark outcomes from Tasmanian schools against like schools in other states. Now we can see whether all our young people are being given this equal chance.
This benchmarking shows the Yr 12 attainment rates of students in Tasmanian government schools to be much lower than students of comparable schools in other states, which means there is not only inequality between our richer and poorer schools (as Gonski found for the whole of Australia), but also between Tasmanian government senior secondary schools and like schools in other states. Let’s call that the TASki gap.
The TASki gap occurs only in our senior secondary years. Almost all of the Tasmanian state schools in this analysis come top or near to the top in terms of their Yr 9 NAPLAN results compared with similar schools in other states. And the Taski gap is not about dollars. In our benchmarking study only Burnie and Kingston High Schools receive less dollars per student than their similar schools.
Thus we have a double inequality in the outcomes from the Tasmanian public schooling system. First, and as in the rest of the country, students in our more advantaged schools are achieving much better outcomes than students in schools at the other end of the scale. That is the Gonski Gap, the problem Gonski funding is designed to fix. But then we also have inequality between the senior secondary attainment of students in our government system compared with students attending similar schools in other states, regardless of whether they are attending an advantaged or a disadvantaged school. This is the TASki Gap. That is a problem we in Tasmania need to fix.
The aim of this analysis is to compare key educational outcomes – the Yr 9 NAPLAN and Yr 12 attainment rates – for students at a range of Tasmanian secondary schools, with those of students in similar high schools in other states.
MAKING FAIR and USEFUL COMPARISONS between SIMILAR SCHOOLS[i]
For each of the Tasmanian schools in our sample, we used the MySchool website to identify a set of similar schools – similar in having the same or almost the same Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage (ICSEA).[ii]
The ICSEA scale was developed by Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) from the demographic characteristics which have most impact on students’ NAPLAN results. ACARA says schools with a similar ICSEA can be fairly compared in relation to NAPLAN. We take a further step and assume such schools can also be fairly compared in relation to their Year 12 attainment levels, on the basis that factors commonly held to affect Year 12 success, such as school location, parental level of education and kind of employment, are already taken into account in determining a school’s ICSEA.[iii]
To ensure we are being absolutely fair, we do not include interstate private schools among the comparison schools for Tasmanian public schools (but we do allow the reverse), and we exclude any single sex girls schools and academically selective schools. This gives us a total of 202 interstate schools, in groups of schools similar to the 14 Tasmanian schools in our sample (ten government and four non-government). And we include the eight Tasmanian colleges, since most of the high school students will attend a college if they continue to Yr 12.
The selection of the Tasmanian secondary schools was based on their location (to give a spread around the State) and their ICSEA (to include more and less advantaged schools), but made without reference to their NAPLAN results or Yr 12 attainment rates. The schools, their 2015 ICSEAs, and the number of interstate similar schools used for comparison are (in ICSEA order):
|The Friends School||1169||9|
|Taroona High School||1109||8|
|Launceston Christian School||1054||15|
|Marist Regional College||1020||31|
|Kingston High School||995||14|
|Burnie High School||957||24|
|Devonport High School||956||28|
|Queechy High School||953||33|
|Scottsdale High School||933||28|
|Wynyard High School||914||23|
|Huonville High School||910||32|
|Campbell Town High School||909||12|
|Mountain Heights School||885||9|
Note that none of the comparison schools are from the ACT or the NT, because both are too different to Tasmania, e.g., the average ICSEA of the ACT colleges is about the same as Taroona’s, Tasmania’s highest ICSEA high school. Neither do we use any WA schools, as their 2012 Yr 10 cohort was atypical following a change to the school starting age some years before.
In total, our data set of 224 schools comprises:
- 10 Tasmanian government high schools
- 8 Tasmanian government colleges
- 4 Tasmanian non-government schools
- 151 government schools in other states
- 51 non-government schools in other states
Having identified sets of schools which it is fair to compare, we need to ensure we are comparing ‘apples with apples’, i.e. using measures which are equivalent across jurisdictions and thus a fair and useful basis for comparing schools’ performance.
This issue is easily resolved for NAPLAN attainment. This is a national system for evaluating student learning which we take as a fair indicator of performance across all schools with the same or very similar ICSEAs.[iv] To make comparisons easier, we calculate a single measure from NAPLAN results for each school by averaging the percentages of students achieving above the national minimum standards for Yr 9 Reading and Numeracy in 2015, the most recent data available on MySchool at the time of writing.
There is no similar national measure of Yr 12 attainment, each jurisdiction defining its own requirements for their certificate, including processes for quality assurance and certification. However the requirements do not need to be identical for comparisons to be fair and useful, just sufficiently similar to be broadly comparable. This is all we assume, as explained and justified in the longer article outlining the methodology and findings of this study.[v]
Currently Tasmanian high schools wholly or dominantly end at Yr 10. Even so, Yr 12 attainment data is available for the students exiting these schools, as for every secondary school in Tasmania. The recently released TASC direct continuation data gives the number and percentage of 2012 Yr 10 students from each high school who went on to attain their Tasmanian Certificate of Education (TCE) in 2014,[vi] regardless of where in Tasmania they undertook their senior secondary study. We use this 2014 data for all of the Tasmanian high schools in this study – except the two smallest schools where a five year average smooths out small sample fluctuations.[vii]
Unlike the MySchool Yr 12 attainment data that we use for schools in other states, this Tasmanian data does not include students who completed their TCE over three or more years. However such extended completers add no more than 5% to the total,[viii] so do not change the overall picture since the differences between Tasmanian and interstate Yr 12 attainment rates are many times greater. Nor does the relatively small number of students leaving Tasmania after Year 10, about 120 per year,[ix] which is negligible in the analysis assuming they are reasonably evenly spread across most of our high schools. Other sources of inaccuracies or distortions were considered – such as international enrolments – and their potential impact found not to be such as to affect the overall patterns emerging from our findings.[x]
With those qualifications we can use the MySchool Year 12 attainment data for the similar schools in other states to provide a comparison to Tasmanian schools’ direct continuation data – by calculating the number of interstate students gaining their Yr 12 certificate in 2014 as a percentage of that school’s 2012 Yr 10 cohort. For NSW and SA, we estimate the 2012 Yr 10 cohort from each school’s total enrolment, using a rule of estimation which ensures the fairest possible comparison for the Tasmanian schools.[xi] For QLD and Victoria, year level enrolment for individual schools is available online.[xii]
A second and much simpler measure is the percentage of Yr 12 students gaining their certificate. Elsewhere we describe our detailed consideration of the comparability of this measure across jurisdictions, including potential sources of inaccuracies and potential objections,[xiii] concluding that this simpler measure provides a fair and accurate basis for comparing Yr 12 attainment between schools offering Yrs 11 and 12. Accordingly we use this measure for the eight Tasmanian public colleges and all private schools in the sample, the former not enrolling Yr 10 students and the latter, as P-12 schools, making estimations of Yr 10 enrolments less accurate.
While the full data set of results is available elsewhere,[xiv] in the first appendix to this paper we summarize the findings in a series of graphs with comments on each (see pages 12-21, below).
These graphs compare Yr 12 attainment rates for each Tasmanian school and its set of similar schools in other states. If the size of the interstate similar schools group is large enough, we further divide them into metropolitan and provincial/remote, and smaller and larger schools. And in each graph we include the college or colleges at which we expect most students from that high school would enrol for Yrs 11 and 12. We then discuss what we learn from these comparisons.
It is important to note that (except for the two smaller schools) this data is a single year snapshot, so each schools’ performance might look a bit better, or not quite so good, if we had chosen another year. In view of this, and because the differences between different schools’ average NAPLAN scores are typically small, and even Yr 12 results vary from year to year, when we put schools in order of achievement among their group of similar schools (as in the table below), the precise rank of a school does not give much information – whereas being near the top of its similar schools group, or near the bottom, does.
Even more importantly, taking all the Tasmanian schools together a pattern emerges – actually two strikingly different patterns, one for NAPLAN, and an entirely different one for Yr 12 attainment. So while there may very well be annual variations for individual schools, the wider picture we find would remain the same if we looked at different years’ data.
SUMMARY OF TASMANIAN HIGH SCHOOLS’ PERFORMANCE COMPARED WITH THEIR SIMILAR SCHOOLS on YR 9 NAPLAN and YR 12 ATTAINMENT
|Yr 9 NAPLAN – position*||Yr 10s completing senior secondary certificate – position*|
|Burnie High School||4/25||24/25|
|Campbell Town District High School||1/13||13/13|
|Devonport High School||8/29||28/29|
|Huonville High School||3/33||33/33|
|Kingston High School||8/15||13/15|
|Mountain Heights School||1/10||10/10|
|Queechy High School||29/34||33/34|
|Scottsdale High School||5/29||26/29|
|Taroona High School||5/9||9/9|
|Wynyard High School||10/24||24/24|
* 4/25 indicates that Burnie High’s Yr 9 NAPLAN results were fourth out a group of 25 similar schools, with 24/25 indicating that it was second to bottom out of the same group of schools for Yr 12 attainment. And so for Campbell Town, 1/13 indicates that its Yr 9 NAPLAN results topped its group of 13 similar schools, whereas 13/13 that it came last in terms of Yr 12 attainment. And so on, down the list.
TESTING EXPLANATIONS: causes, excuses, myths and misconceptions
The discussion of our findings focuses on suggestions we have been offered to explain the TASki gap. We use the findings – summarized above and set out in Appendix I below (see pages 11-20) – to test their validity.
- State by state comparisons are misleading – comparing Tasmanian schools with like schools in other states shows our schools are doing just as well.
We did the benchmarking study of individual schools to test just this claim. The data shows that this claim is true for Yr 9 NAPLAN, and if anything it understates the strength of the Tasmanian high schools. As the table above shows:
- two of the ten Tasmanian state schools are top of their similar schools group for NAPLAN – and well clear of the next highest scoring school,
- another seven are in the top half.
(Note here the importance of similar schools group comparisons. Taroona’s year 9 NAPLAN average is the highest in the group of ten Tasmanian state high schools, but its performance is not quite midway amongst its interstate similar schools group. Note also that NAPLAN, while useful as a fair basis of comparison between schools, is not the only interesting nor even the most important thing about a school. Queechy, for example, has a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program that schools with better NAPLAN results in all states would do well to look at.)
In relation to the percentage of their Yr 10s that continue to gain their Yr 12 certificates, however, we find the opposite. All of the Tasmanian schools are at or near the bottom of their similar schools groups – five of the ten Tasmanian state schools are last in their similar schools group, and the rest are at best three places from the bottom. Looking at the second measure for Yr 12 attainment – the percentage of Yr 12 students gaining their certificates – the situation is no better. Adding the colleges to the sets of interstate similar schools, the top performing college (Launceston) comes 145th out of 159.
- Small schools cannot offer successful Year 12 programs.
Looking only at differences of 5% or more among the interstate school groups, this claim is not supported by the data, with differences of no more than 8% between Yr 12 students’ attainment rates for smaller and larger schools. And even more marked, Year 10s are 22% and 11% more successful in continuing on to gain their Yr 12 certificates in the similar schools smaller than Burnie and Devonport, and less successful only in Scottsdale’s group (6% less).
- Year 12 programs are more successful in metropolitan schools.
This claim receives only very weak support from the data, again considering only differences of 5% or more. The Yr 12s’ attainment rate at provincial schools was lower only for Kingston’s and Mountain Heights’ group (7% and 11% respectively), while 7% higher for Scottsdale’s. In terms of Yr 10s going on to attain their Yr 12 certificates, there were differences between metropolitan and provincial similar schools of 5% or more for only two schools, with Burnie’s similar provincial schools average being 6% above the metro schools, and Mountain Heights’ 6% below.
- Using the rate of TCE attainment as a measure of school performance is misleading, since until very recently the TCE has not been respected in Tasmania or seen as important for students’ futures. Instead students, and schools/colleges have focused on the ATAR.
Our findings neither support nor refute this suggestion. But data from the TASC web site (http://www.tqa.tas.gov.au/1324) shows that the rate of TCE attainment is more than double the rate of ATAR attainment. [xv] And in 2013 in all Tasmanian schools only 280 students gained an ATAR but not their TCE.[xvi] So this claim does not provide an explanation of the low rate of TCE attainment.
- The similar school comparisons are unfair to Tasmania because ICSEA does not adequately take account of the ‘feeling of remoteness’ of Tasmanian communities.
To test this, we chose a further sample of eleven of the most remote schools in Australia which offer Yr 12. This generated the following group of remote schools, listed in increasing order of their Yr 12 students gaining their senior secondary certificates in 2014:[xvii]
- Coober Pedy (SA, outback opal mining town)
- Leigh Creek (SA, outback coal mining town)
- Wilcannia Central School (NSW, River Darling station country)
- Norseman District School (WA, outback mining town)
- Ceduna Area School (SA, far west fishing and farming community)
- Centralian Senior College (Alice Springs)
- Lightning Ridge Central School (NSW, outback opal mining town)
- Balranald High School (NSW, station country)
- Bourke High School (NSW, iconic outback)
- Condobolin High (NSW, listed as provincial, but in the geographic centre)
- Longreach State High School (QLD, station country)
Note that the ICSEAs of these schools are generally much lower than Tasmanian schools, certainly the ten state high schools in our sample, with an average ICSEA (863) below Mountain Heights’ (885).
Despite this, in seven out of these eleven remote schools a higher percentage of Yr 12 students gained their senior secondary certificates than at Rosny, Hobart and Launceston colleges, and only two, Coober Pedy and Leigh Creek, are below Don, Hellyer and Elizabeth colleges.
A criticism of using this measure is that it can be inflated by a low rate of retention to Yr 12. This certainly applies to the smaller of these schools, but taken together – treating them as one school – their Yr 12 class is 12% of the total enrolment whereas an ‘equal share’ would be 11%.
Nonetheless our point here is not to compare these schools individually or as a whole with the Tasmanian colleges – as mostly very disadvantaged, very small, and all very remote schools they could scarcely be less suitable comparison schools – but only to test the claim that the ‘feeling of remoteness’ explains why so few of Tasmania’s Yr 12 students gain their senior secondary certificates
- The comparison is not fair because the TCE is harder to obtain than the senior secondary certificates of the other states – the SACE, VCE/VCAL, HSC and QCE.
We have previously undertaken a detailed study of this assertion, quite popular in some quarters, and found no evidence to support the claim.[xviii]
Further, it is not supported by the rates for senior secondary certificate attainment by the Yr 12 class in Tasmanian private schools in this study, which, compared with the colleges, are much closer to those of their interstate similar schools. [xix]
- Poverty in Tasmania is different – our poor people are not out of luck, but out of ambition, affected by generations of welfare dependence, and so value neither employment nor education.
This is often suggested but the facts just do not bear it out. First, Tasmania’s rate of welfare dependence, measured by the percentage of children living in welfare dependent families is not that different to other states:[xx] We have statewide gaps here of about 4-7% in terms of welfare dependency, whereas we are looking for an explanation of gaps of about 20%-30% in Yr 12 attainment between our high schools/colleges and their interstate similar schools.
Moreover, Tasmania’s slightly higher rate of welfare dependence is not affecting our schools’ NAPLAN performance relative to comparable schools in our sample. There is something of interest here, requiring further exploration and explanation.
To look at this graphically, we plotted the ICSEA of each of the Tasmanian state high schools in this study alongside the Yr 12 attainment gap between the Yr10s from each of Tasmanian state schools and their interstate similar schools group. The resulting graph (see Appendix II page 22) shows the trend narrowing the gap from minus 30% to minus 15% as we move from lower to higher ICSEA Tasmanian schools.
However, and most intriguing, plotting the ICSEAs of these same Tasmanian state schools against the gap between their Yr 9 NAPLAN achievements and those of the their similar interstate schools, the relationship is reversed, with a fall in the Tasmanian school performance and thus our ‘positive NAPLAN gap’ decreasing with increasing ICSEA for the schools in our sample. (See the graph on page 23).
In other words, in terms of Yr 9 NAPLAN, Tasmanian students from the lower ICSEA schools in our sample are outperforming their interstate counterparts in similar schools by almost 15%, but for schools with students from more advantaged backgrounds this falls off to around parity at Taroona’s ICSEA.
An illuminating way to look at this data is this.
Outcomes from schooling in Australia are correlated with parental background. Children with better educated and wealthier parents, living in major cities, have greater success at school by any ordinary measure.
In Tasmania, if we can generalize from our sample – and we see no reason not to – this equity gap is narrower than in the rest of Australia for Yr 9 NAPLAN outcomes.
For Yr 12 attainment, however, it is the reverse, with our lower ICSEA schools further behind their comparable schools interstate than the higher ICSEA schools in our sample.
Thus, provided only that our sample is representative of Tasmanian high schools, we can say to the end of Yr 10, Tasmanian schooling is less unequal than in the other states, but beyond Yr 10, it is more unequal.
Moreover, informed by this data, it is hard to argue that our families with lower levels of education, employment more towards the unskilled than the professional end of the classification, and higher unemployment, do not value education – at least until Yr 9 or, since that is not a stopping point, the end of Yr 10.
- There is a Tasmania effect – cause to be identified – which explains the Yr 12 attainment gap.
Let us review what we have discovered about the schools in our sample from these findings, which we infer also holds for all high schools in Tasmania.
Comparing the Yr 10 students at two similar Australian state high schools, the students in Tasmania will at best be 15%, mostly around 25%, and (depending on their school) up to 40% less likely to achieve their Yr 12 certificates than students in similar schools in SA, Victoria, NSW or Queensland.
If we look just at students who make it to Yr 12 (overlooking those falling away before this), Tasmanian students will be, at best 14%, mostly about 30%, and at worst more than 40% less likely to end their schooling achieving their senior secondary certificates compared with interstate students in similar schools.
What can explain these findings?
Clearly we cannot look to the students themselves for an explanation, or to their families, or their school’s location, because we are comparing schools with like ICSEA – so there are no differences between the students and their families with explanatory power in relation to their achievement, at least as measured by NAPLAN.
Might they nonetheless differ in their attitude to the importance of gaining their Yr 12 qualification?
Unlikely, according to the results from the recent UTAS-DoE Linkage research project which found that of almost four thousand rural and outer regional primary, high school and college students, 90% think that education is important and 73% that continuing past Yr 10 is important, with almost half intending to go to university and about a third aiming to get an apprenticeship.[xxi]
But in any case, if Tasmanians differ from people in other states in their belief in the importance of finishing school with a meaningful qualification, where do students and their families get their ideas about the importance of gaining their Yr 12 certificates?
We think the answer will be found in the hidden curriculum – to use a wonderful concept of Ivan Illich’s – communicated by the division between junior and senior high school. What unintended, deeply embedded messages does it send to teachers, principals, communities and most of all to students and their families that their local school ends at Yr 10? Whereas elsewhere in Australia schools successfully offer the senior secondary years even in the most far flung places, with the senior students in their school communities providing powerful role models for the younger students.
The only significant variable which differentiates the Tasmanian high schools from their group of similar interstate schools is that all of the latter offer years 11 and 12. Thus, on the basis of all the data discussed and other information just presented, we conclude that the Tasmania effect which explains the gap in senior secondary attainment between Tasmanian and like schools interstate, is not a property of our students, their families, or their communities, but of our senior secondary schooling system.
Happily, there is an improving trend in the Yr 12 attainment rate as the data made available on the TASC web site shows.[xxii] Doubtless there is low hanging fruit to be harvested in making sure all students who could easily get their TCE but currently miss out are supported to do so. But closing the TASki gap will require much more thoroughgoing change, led by principals, teachers and other educational leaders who are not prepared to put up with the status quo, most especially in terms of the current unsatisfactory Yr 12 attainment rates of their students. The progressive extension of Yrs 11 and 12 to high schools across the State is an essential pre-requisite. But how that will work best, location by location, is a matter for the educational leaders in our high schools and colleges to recommend – they are the key to the transformation of our senior secondary education system.
And transformation we need, since, to return to the theme of inequality with which we began, the benchmarking exercise confronts us with some sobering realities. We can summarize these by looking just at Mountain Heights and Taroona, the lowest and highest ICSEA Tasmanian state schools in our sample, and their similar schools in other states.
OUTCOMES GAPS: Gonski and TASki
In 2014, 28% of the students who had been in Yr10 at Mountain Heights two years earlier attained their TCE. For Taroona, the figure was 65%. The corresponding figure for the other states’ schools similar to Mountain Heights was 56%, and for Taroona’s similar schools, 84%.
We look at these differences between the educational outcomes for the students of Mountain Heights (and their similar schools), compared with Taroona (and its similar schools), and we say something is not right here. Students at Taroona have double the chance of gaining their Yr12 certificate compared with Mountain Heights. At their similar schools in other states, those in the more advantaged school group have a 50% better chance. There should not be that large difference between outcomes at more and less advantaged schools. This is the inequality we call the Gonski gap. We find it in Tasmania and all other states.
But look at those figures again, this time focusing not on the difference between the more and less advantaged schools, but the difference between the schools in Tasmania and their similar schools in other states.
Again, we look at the differences between the educational outcomes for the students at Mountain Heights and Taroona, and their similar schools in other states, and we say something is not right here. The students at schools interstate that are similar to Mountain Heights have double the chance of gaining their Yr12 certificates compared with students at Mountain Heights. Similarly, almost one third more of the students at schools interstate that are similar to Taroona get their Yr12 certificates compared with students at Taroona itself. Now we say there should not be that large difference between outcomes from similar schools in Tasmania and other states. This is the inequality we call the TASki gap.
Just about everyone supports Gonski. But in all conscience we cannot say that the Gonski gap is unacceptable in modern Australia, while the TASki gap – just as large for students at Mountain Heights as we have just seen – is something to be explained away by the nature of the students or their community.
We need to take the TASki gap as seriously as the Gonski gap, seek out and address its causes, and act to close it with as much energy and urgency as has been devoted to the ‘I Give a Gonski’ campaign.
NOTE: In all of the following ten bar graphs, the blue bars should be compared with blue bars, the red with the red, as they use a different measure for Yr 12 attainment as the legend indicates. The first and second blue bars compare the attainment rates of each Tasmanian high school with its group of similar schools, the subsequent blue bars disaggregating the latter into provincial, metropolitan, smaller and larger schools to identify any patterns by these characteristics. The red bars follow the same pattern, viz the first two (or more) comparing the attainment rates of local college or colleges with that of the similar schools, with the locational and size disaggregations following.
BURNIE HIGH SCHOOL[xxiii]
- Both Burnie High and Hellyer College are well below Burnie’s similar schools in other states for senior secondary certificate (SSC) attainment – Burnie’s Year 10s are 21% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSCs, and Hellyer’s Year 12s are 30% below.
- In schools similar to but smaller than Burnie, the average rate for Year 10s attaining their SSC is 22% above the larger schools, and these smaller schools also have 6% more of their Year 12s gain their SSC.
- Among Burnie’s comparison schools the Year 10s at provincial schools also gain their SSC at a rate 6% higher than metropolitan schools. Other differences are less than 5%, which we ignore as too small to be meaningful.
- In Burnie’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 to SSC results closest to Burnie’s (40%) are Woodville High, 35% (SA Metro), Kingaroy High, 48% (QLD Provincial) and Woolgoolga High, 48% (NSW Provincial).
- In Burnie’s set of interstate similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC attainment rates closest to Hellyer’s (60%) are Woodville High, 62% (SA Metro), Kingaroy High, 75% (QLD Provincial), and Bundaberg North State High School, 78% (QLD Provincial).
- Burnie is 4th amongst its 25 similar interstate schools for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 24th of 25 for the % of Year 10s gaining their senior secondary certificate.
- Devonport and Burnie are similar schools.
CAMPBELL TOWN HIGH SCHOOL
- Campbell Town High, and Launceston and Newstead colleges are well below Campbell Town’s similar schools in other states for SSC attainment.
- Although Launceston College (75%) is well above Newstead College (47%) for the % of Year 12s attaining their certificate, it is below every school in Campbell Town’s interstate similar schools list on this measure except for Hay War Memorial High School (NSW, Provincial) at 73%, with the next lowest two being Bass High School, 84% (NSW, Metro), and Heatley Secondary College, 85% (QLD, Metro).
- Campbell Town is first out of 13 for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 13th out of 13 for % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
DEVONPORT HIGH SCHOOL
- Devonport High and Don College are well below Devonport’s similar schools in other states – Devonport’s Year 10s are 23% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSC, and Don’s Year 12s are 33% below.
- There is very little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures, except that Year 10s from the smaller schools similar to Devonport have a rate of SSC attainment 11% above the larger schools.
- In Devonport’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 results closest to Devonport (40%) are Woodville High, 35% (SA Metro), Kingaroy High, 48% (QLD Provincial) and Woolgoolga High, 48% (NSW Provincial).
- In Devonport’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 results closest to Don College (59%) are Woodville High, 62% (SA Metro), Kingaroy High, 75% (QLD Provincial), and Bundaberg North High, 78% (QLD, Provincial).
- Devonport and Burnie are similar schools.
- Devonport is 8th out of 29 for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 28th out of 29 for % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
HUONVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
- Huonville High and the three colleges are well below Huonville’s similar schools in other states – Huonville’s Year 10s are 26% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSC, and the colleges’ Year 12s are 25% and more below.
- There is very little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures, although the larger interstate schools have 5% more of their Year 12s gaining their SSC.
- In Huonville’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 to SSC results closest to Huonville’s (34%) are Orara High, 40% (NSW Provincial), Warialda High, 42% (NSW Provincial), and Cobar High, 44% (NSW Remote).
- In Huonville’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC results closest to the three Hobart located Tasmanian colleges (60-67%) are Hay War Memorial High, 73% (NSW, Provincial), Moura State High School, 81% (QLD, provincial), and Cobar High, 83% (NSW, Remote).
- Huonville is 3rd out of 33 for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 33rd out of 33 for the % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
KINGSTON HIGH SCHOOL
- Kingston High and the three colleges are well below Kingston’s similar schools in other states – Kingston’s Year 10s are 15% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSC, and the three Hobart located colleges’ Year 12s are about 30% and more below.
- There is little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures, with metropolitan and larger schools doing better on their Year 12s completing their certificates by 7% and 5% respectively.
- In Kingston’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 results closest to Kingston’s (55%) are all NSW Metro schools – Whitebridge, (50%); Elizabeth Macarthur, (52%); and Karabar high schools (60%).
- In Kingston’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC results closest to the three Tasmanian colleges’ (60-67%) are Clare High School, 85% (SA, provincial), Daylesford Secondary College, 89% (VIC Provincial), and Warrnambool College, 92% (VIC Provincial).
- Kingston is 8th out of 15 for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 13th out of 15 for the % of its Year 10s gaining their SSC.
MOUNTAIN HEIGHTS SCHOOL
- Mountain Heights and Hellyer College are well below Mountain Heights’ similar schools in other states – Mountain Heights’ Year 10s are 28% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSC, and Hellyer’s Year 12s are 27% below.
- The Mountain Heights similar interstate schools in metro areas are about 6% better than the provincial schools on Year 10s gaining their SSC, and 11% on their Year 12s gaining their SSC.
- In Mountain Height’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 results closest to Mountain Heights’, (28%) are Port Augusta High, 30% (SA, Provincial), Tamworth High School, 41% (NSW, Provincial), and Warrawong High, 51% (NSW, Metro).
- In Mountain Height’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 results closest to Hellyer College’s (60%) are Port Augusta High School, 47% (SA, Provincial), St George High, 79% (NSW, Remote), and Spinifex State College, 86% (QLD, remote).
- Mountain Heights is 1st out of 10 for average Yr 9 NAPLAN, and 10th out of 10 for the % of its Year 10s gaining their SSC.
QUEECHY HIGH SCHOOL
- Queechy High and the two colleges in Launceston are well below Queechy’s similar schools in other states – Queechy’s Year 10s are 22% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSC, and Launceston’s and Newstead’s Year 12s are 14% and 42% below.
- There is very little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures.
- In Queechy’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 results closest to Queechy’s (40%) are Woodville High, 35% (SA Metro), LeFevre High School 41% (SA, Metro), and Broadford Secondary College, 51% (VIC, Provincial).
- In Queechy’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC results closest to Launceston’s (75%) and Newstead’s (47%) colleges are LeFevre High School, 61% (SA, Metro), Woodville High, 62% (SA Metro), and Dalby High, 66% (QLD Provincial).
- Queechy is 29th out of 34 for average NAPLAN, and 33rd out of 34 for % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
SCOTTSDALE HIGH SCHOOL
- Scottsdale High and the two colleges in Launceston are well below Scottsdale’s similar schools in other states – Scottsdale’s Year 10s are 20% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their Year 12 certificates, and Launceston’s and Newstead’s Year 12s are 15% and 43% below.
- There is little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures, with 6% fewer Year 10s in schools smaller than Scottsdale gaining their SSC than in the larger schools, but 7% more of the Year 12s in provincial and remote schools gaining their SSC compared with metropolitan schools.
- In Scottsdale’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 SSC attainment closest to Scottsdale’s (44%) are Valley View High, 37% (SA, Metro), Kurunjang Secondary College, 38% (VIC Metro), and Batemans Bay High, 41% (NSW Provincial).
- In Scottsdale’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC results closest to Launceston (74%) and Newstead (47%) colleges’ are Beenleigh High, 60% (QLD, Metro), Valley View High School, 67% (SA, Metro), and Craigmore High, 76% (SA Metro).
- Scottsdale is 5th out of 29 for average NAPLAN, and 26th out of 29 for the % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
TAROONA HIGH SCHOOL
- Taroona High and the three colleges are well below Taroona’s similar schools in other states – Taroona’s Year 10s are 19% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their SSCs, and Hobart, Rosny and Elizabeth colleges are 29% – 36% below.
- In Taroona’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 SSC results closest to Taroona’s (65%) are Chatswood High School, 67% (NSW, Metro), Killarney Heights High, 75% (NSW, Metro), and Marryatville High, 77% (SA, Metro).
- In Taroona’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 SSC results closest to the three colleges’ (60-67%) are Marryatville High, 88% (SA, Metro), Kenmore High, 92% (QLD, Metro), and Northcote High School, 97% (VIC Metro).
- Taroona is 5th out of 9 for average NAPLAN, and 9th out of 9 for % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
WYNYARD HIGH SCHOOL
- The Tasmanian schools are well below Wynyard’s similar schools in other states – Wynyard’s Year 10s are 26% below their interstate counterparts in attaining their Year 12 certificates, and Hellyer’s Year 12s are 32% below.
- There is little difference between the other states’ provincial/metro/smaller/larger schools’ means on either of these measures, except for 8% fewer Year 12s in schools smaller than Wynyard gaining their SSC than in the larger schools.
- In Wynyard’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 10 results closest to Wynyard’s (34%) are Orara High, 40% (NSW Provincial), Kanahooka High, 42% (NSW Metro), and Cobar High, 44% (NSW Remote).
- In Wynyard’s set of similar schools, the three schools with Year 12 results closest to Hellyer’s (60%) are Hay War Memorial High, 73% (NSW, Provincial), Moura High School, 81% (QLD, Provincial), and Cobar High, 83% (NSW, Remote).
- Wynyard is 10th out of 24 for average NAPLAN, and 24th out of 24 for the % of Year 10s gaining their SSC.
[i] For a full explanation of the methodology used in this study, see our article entitled Using MySchool to Benchmark Tasmanian Schools’ Performance at the Did You Know section at http://educationambassadors.org.au The full data set on which the analysis is based is also there.
[ii] For a simple explanation of ICSEA see http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/20160418_ACARA_ICSEA.pdf
[iv] See http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Reliability_and_validity_of_NAPLAN.pdf, and Masters et al 2008, at http://www.curriculum.edu.au/verve/_resources/ACER_Report_on_Reporting_and_comparing_school_performances.pdf)
[vii] For the two Tasmanian schools in the sample with enrolments of less than 300 students, we average five years of TCE attainment (2011 – 2015), with each year weighted 10% more than the preceding year to take account of the general improving trend.
[viii] See data on the TCE attainment rates of students commencing Year 11 at each college, tabled in the Legislative Council in answer to Questions on Notice numbers 26 of 2014 and 69 of 2016, asked by the Hon Ruth Forrest.
[ix] According to data from the Tasmanian Qualifications Authority (TQA). See Briefing Note No:18/2015, Agenda Item: 3.4 of the meeting held on Aril 1, 2015, page 21
[x] Ibid, pages 8-9
[xi] These additional precautions in the calculations for the NSW and South Australia schools are explained in full on pages 8-9 of our article Using MySchool to Benchmark Tasmanian Schools Performance at the Did You Know button on http://educationambassadors.org.au
[xii] For the QLD year level enrolment data see here http://education.qld.gov.au/schools/statistics/enrolments.html and for the same VIC data see here https://www.data.vic.gov.au/data/dataset/all-schools-fte-enrolments-feb-2012
[xiii] Ibid, pages 9-10
[xiv] The full data set of results can be downloaded from the Education Ambassadors web site by clicking on the link in the Did You Know section on the front page – see http://educationambassadors.org.au
[xv] From the TASC school attainment profiles for 2014, of the 5,140 year 12/13 Australian resident students between 15 and 19 attending government schools in Tasmania in 2014, 51% achieved the TCE and less than half, just 23%, an ATAR.
[xvii] Except for schools smaller than 300 students where we use a simple average of the last five years (2011-14) of Year 12 attainment data to smooth out small sample effects
[xviii] see http://educationambassadors.org.au/494-2/ and for a detailed chart of the various requirements http://educationambassadors.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/SSC-Requirements-all-States.pdf
[xix] Comparing the private schools in this study with their interstate similar schools, we found gaps of 6%, 11%, 15% and 19%, whereas the gap for the state high schools are in the region of 30%, with the smallest gap for Launceston College when compared with the schools in Queechy’s interstate similar schools group (14%).
[xx] Australia 23.3%, NSW 24.0%, VIC 22.6%, QLD 24.1%, SA 26.0%, TAS 30.0%
[xxi] As reported by a member of the research team, Emeritus Professor Jane Watson, in the Mercury, December 10, 2014, pages 18-19
[xxiii] The full data set on which this and the other graphs in Appendix I are based, including NAPLAN data, can be downloaded from the Education Ambassadors web site by clicking on the link in the Did You Know section on the front page – see http://educationambassadors.org.au.