How to take a lesson from a bad school year
It’s a little like that old adage: If you don’t have time to read, write, and study, it’s time to start over.
The latest Australian Financial Report has revealed the worst schools in the country for student outcomes.
Schools in the top 10 per cent of performance on a range of measures, including the number of students enrolled in high school, student retention, and student retention for their school year, all fell last year.
In particular, students in the bottom 10 percent of performance had worse outcomes, according to the report.
These schools were the ones that saw students drop out early, struggle with grades, and have higher numbers of students who dropped out or left early.
The bottom half of performance also saw students who had a low GPA fall further behind, with those in the lowest half of grades falling further behind.
In all, 22 per cent more students dropped out in the last year than in the previous year, with the top 5 per cent seeing more dropouts.
In all but one school in the report, students dropped significantly out of the classroom during the school year.
There are also signs of student retention issues in the education system.
Almost two-thirds of the schools in this year’s report were in the lower half of academic performance, with almost half of the top schools failing to maintain a majority of students in their class over the academic year.
The report also found that the proportion of students studying a subject other than a major has also dropped dramatically, with a third of students from the lowest to the top performing in subjects other than English or Science.
This is in sharp contrast to the previous financial year, which saw a significant increase in the proportion studying subjects other to a major, and even an increase in subjects in which more students were taking a minor.
Students in the first three years of a university degree are more likely to graduate, but they are also more likely than students in other years to drop out.
According to the latest report, about a third (32 per cent) of students with a first degree degree or above are still taking courses outside of that subject area.
Students who finish their degree in a year are more than twice as likely as students who finish in the year after their first degree to earn a postgraduate degree.
Overall, 22,000 more students had a postgraduation degree than students who finished in the years between 2010 and 2019, while the percentage of students completing their first postgraduate education has risen from 25 per cent to 28 per cent.
Students completing a degree are twice as often likely as those with a non-degree to earn an advanced degree.
However, the report found that while more students are studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), more students in this group are not.
In total, about half (50 per cent), of students completed a science, engineering or mathematics degree.
Students are also less likely to be in school as a result of a bad year.
Of the 12,000 students who took the ACT’s National Curriculum Assessment, about 2,000 did not attend school as of last year, down from 6,000 in 2020.
Students aged between 16 and 20 who did not complete the ACT national curriculum assessment had an average of 12.2 per cent less academic success than their peers who did, according the report’s results.
While most students in Canberra were enrolled, those with non-government or non-accredited qualifications had a slightly higher average academic success rate (12.9 per cent).
Students with private education and training degrees also had an academic success advantage.
Students with government or government-funded qualifications had an advantage of 14.9 percentage points, compared to their peers with non government or non government- funded qualifications.
Despite the report showing a slight increase in student achievement, it is clear that the number and quality of students taking courses in the ACT is still low.
This report shows how the ACT can improve and should be commended for its work on student outcomes, the best interests of students, and the environment in Canberra.
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