ACT schools are Australia’s most advantaged, so why are they falling behind?

Nov 19, 2018 by

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By Sherryn Groch –

The ACT is quick to celebrate its NAPLAN success each year, but beneath the raw numbers Canberra children perform nowhere near as well as authorities claim.

At first glance, the territory tops the nation in most of the subjects and age groups tested each May in the national assessment. Yet as soon as you compare children living in metropolitan areas or those with university-educated parents – a more accurate reflection of Canberra’s population – the ACT plunges down the rankings.

In September, leading think tank the Grattan Institute delivered the latest in a series of sobering report cards for the ACT, finding the territory was trailing the nation in student learning progress despite its socioeconomic advantages. It follows recent analysis by the Australian National University which revealed a “sea of red” where Canberra high school students were lagging up to 16 months behind their peers from similar backgrounds, and earlier work from the ACT auditor-general that showed students were underperforming despite government spending.

The ACT government, which has attempted to discredit findings from both the Grattan Institute and the ANU in recent weeks, insists any school performance problem in the territory is one of equity.

Source: ACT schools are Australia’s most advantaged, so why are they falling behind?

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