What factors influence school performance in Australia?

imageI am halfway through reading “School performance in Australia: results from analyses of school effectiveness”, a research report published in 2004. It looked at the performance of Victorian schools, as part of the Shared Future project. Although the report dates from 2004, almost all of the data and findings are still absolutely relevant today.

As I’ve been reading it, I’ve been looking for snippets of information that would be relevant and useful for a leader/teacher in an individual school. Here’s some of those:

  • Teachers who are more satisfied with their jobs produce better results (Page x)
  • Where teachers rely more often on traditional teaching methods the results are lower (Page x)
  • High performing schools adopt policies facilitating student engagement…such as extra-curricular programmes and student support (Page xi)
  • There is no relationship between school expenditure and school performance – although there’s a note that later analysis showed there may be ‘some positive effect’ (Page 6)
  • Smaller schools perform worse in international reading tests (Page 12)

So, if you want to raise standards in your school, the data says that having more satisfied teachers, with innovative teaching practice, and extra-curriculum programmes will make a difference. And that is even more critical to do if you are from a small school.

The other thing that surprised me is that students’ socio-economic status has a direct link to school absence (Page 20), which is interesting, but perhaps something that individual school leaders can do much about directly?

The Executive Summary has a list of key findings which are interesting at a system level, but probably less useful to an individual school seeking to improve learning (mainly because they are factors which they have little control over), but here they are, for completeness:

  • Performance in schools is strongly linked to student background
  • Australian students are highly segregated along social and academic lines
  • Segregation of students tends to intensify between-school differences in student outcomes
  • Schools differ in effectiveness
  • Effective schools are found in both the government and non-government sectors
  • Some schools consistently perform well
  • Effectiveness extends beyond cognitive outcomes
  • Some school factors help raise performance

Learn MoreRead the full ‘School Performance in Australia’ report