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The relationship between school SES and student outcomes: How does australia compare?

Perry, L. and McConney, A. (2010) The relationship between school SES and student outcomes: How does australia compare? In: AARE 2010, 28 November - 2nd December 2010, University of Melbourne, Melbourne


The research literature has shown conclusively that socio-economically disadvantaged students and schools do less well on standardized measures of academic achievement compared to their more advantaged peers. Less is understood, however, about how the relationship between mean school socio-economic status (SES), individual SES, and academic achievement may vary for students from different social backgrounds, in different school contexts, and in different countries. To uncover these finer‑grained associations, we have been conducting secondary analyses of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). The main findings of our analyses of the Australian dataset are: 1) the relationship between school SES and academic achievement is similar for all students regardless of their social background; 2) increases in the mean SES of a school are associated with consistent increases in students’ academic achievement; and 3) the strength of the relationship between school SES and achievement becomes stronger as the SES of the school increases. We are now conducting similar studies of other national education systems, and compare findings from our analyses of Canada, New Zealand and the US with Australia. All four countries have a similar cultural heritage and share many educational goals, but they differ in how they fund and organize their educational systems. Here, we examine whether the relationships vary cross-nationally, and if so, the extent to which they appear qualitatively linked with variations in systemic factors such as school funding and organization. By building a comparative framework about school SES and student outcomes, we aim to deepen our understanding of the policy measures that can be used to make educational systems more equitable.

Item Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
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