Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. School student engagement and performance. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 17 January 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/school-student-engagement-and-performance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2019). School student engagement and performance. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/school-student-engagement-and-performance
School student engagement and performance. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 11 September 2019, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/school-student-engagement-and-performance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. School student engagement and performance [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019 [cited 2021 Jan. 17]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/school-student-engagement-and-performance
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2019, School student engagement and performance, viewed 17 January 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/school-student-engagement-and-performance
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Higher levels of education are associated with better health and greater life satisfaction (OECD 2016a). In Australia, children must attend school until they complete Year 10. They then can participate in full-time education, employment or training (or a mix) until they are 17. This page presents national statistics to provide an overview of Australia’s performance in education (for these compulsory schooling years).
Student attendance rates refer to the number of days school attended as a percentage of the total number of possible school days. See glossary for more information.
In 2018, student attendance rates were:
The National Assessment Program—Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) is an annual assessment of students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9. NAPLAN assesses the types of skills essential for every child to progress through school and life:
NAPLAN results provide data to assess achievement against the national minimum standard and mean score. See glossary for more information.
NAPLAN mean scores generally range from 0–1,000 points, with higher scores indicating better performance, and are equated so that a score of 700 in Reading has the same meaning in 2008 and 2018 (ACARA 2018c).
Since NAPLAN was introduced in 2008, national mean scores have improved for all year levels across all domains, except Writing (Figure 1).
The largest improvements were in the Reading domain at Year 3 (33 points) and Grammar and punctuation at Year 3 (29 points). The greatest reductions in skill were in Writing for Year 7 (24 points) and Year 9 (27 points).
National mean scores on NAPLAN domains in 2018 did not change substantially from 2017. The only significant changes in the proportion of students at or above the national minimum standard were for years 5 and 9 students in the Grammar and punctuation domain, where increases of 2.5 and 2.4 percentage points were observed respectively (ACARA 2019).
This line graph shows national mean scores on the NAPLAN domain by year level between 2008 and 2018. While there was some fluctuation over time, performance on the Reading, Spelling, Grammar and punctuation, and Numeracy domains increased between 2008 and 2018 across all year levels. Performance on the Writing domain also fluctuated over time, with a general decrease between 2008 and 2018 across all year levels.
Figure 1 data table (124KB XLSX)
Table 1 shows significant changes in NAPLAN domain scores between 2008 and 2018.
Grammar and punctuation
Statistically significant increase from base year.
Statistically significant decrease from base year.
↑ Increase from base year (not statistically significant).
↓ Decrease from base year (not statistically significant).
(a) Significance testing calculated by ACARA.
(b) Due to changes in the Writing assessment in 2011, the Writing score comparison is based on 2011 results as this is the earliest year against which 2018 results can be compared.
Source: ACARA 2019.
1 in 5 students completed the NAPLAN test online
In 2018, NAPLAN tests were delivered using the standard pen-and-paper test or NAPLAN Online. Approximately 1 in 5 students completed the NAPLAN tests online (ACARA 2018b).
Although results are considered comparable between the two versions of the test, concerns were raised about differences in testing methods. Year 9 students scored higher on the Writing domain if they completed the online test rather than the pen-and-paper test (ACARA 2018b). Year 9 students may have more confidence writing electronically than on paper. Students are also able to review and edit their work online in a way that is not possible with a paper test.
Some international studies monitor the performance of primary and secondary school students around the world. These can be used to compare Australian students with their peers in other countries.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial survey of 15-year-old students around the world. It focuses on the core school subjects of science, reading and mathematics. The performance of Australian students was highest at the first year of measurement (2000) and has since declined across reading, science and mathematics (Figure 2). While Australian students have performed above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average on all three measures, the difference between Australia and the OECD average has been decreasing (OECD 2016b).
This line graph shows the mean performance on the PISA scales, comparing Australia with all OECD countries. Mean performance on the reading literacy scale fluctuated, with an overall decline in Australia (2000: 528, 2015: 503), and in all OECD countries (2000: 500, 2015: 493). Mean performance on the Mathematical literacy scale declined between in Australia (2000: 533, 2015: 494) and in all OECD countries (2000: 500, 2015: 490). Mean performance on the Scientific literacy scale fluctuated, with an overall decline in Australia (200: 528, 2015: 510) and in all OECD countries (2000: 500, 2015: 493).
Figure 2 data table (124KB XLSX)
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assesses reading literacy in Year 4 students across 50 countries. According to the PIRLS 2016 report (Thomson et al. 2017a):
This horizontal bar chart shows the mean scores on the PIRLS reading literacy assessment across 50 countries. Australia was ranked 21 with a score of 544. The scores ranged from 320 in South Africa to 581 in the Russian Federation.
Figure 3 data table (124KB XLSX)
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has internationally compared the performance of Year 4 and Year 8 students in mathematics and science since 1995. In the 2015 TIMSS report, of the 57 countries that participated, Australia was outperformed by 21 countries in Year 4 mathematics, 12 countries in Year 8 mathematics, 17 countries in Year 4 science, and 14 countries in Year 8 science (Thomson et al. 2017b).
For more information on overall education, see:
ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) 2018a. NAPLAN achievement in reading, writing, language conventions and numeracy: national report for 2018. Sydney: ACARA.
ACARA 2018b. Release of NAPLAN 2018 summary information. Media release by ACARA. 28 August. Sydney. Viewed 10 January 2019.
ACARA 2018c. Score equivalence tables. Sydney: ACARA. Viewed 6 July 2019.
ACARA 2019. NAPLAN results. Sydney: ACARA. Viewed 16 April 2019.
OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) 2001. Knowledge and skills for life—first results from the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2000. Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
OECD 2004. Learning for tomorrow’s world—first results from PISA 2003. Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
OECD 2007. PISA 2006: Science competencies for tomorrow’s world (Volume I: Analysis). Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
OECD 2010. PISA 2009 Results: What students know and can do—student performance in mathematics, reading and science (Volume I). Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
OECD 2014. PISA 2012 Results: What students know and can do—student performance in mathematics, reading and science (Volume I). Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
OECD 2016a. How are health and life satisfaction related to education? Education Indicators in Focus no. 47. Paris: OECD Publishing.
OECD 2016b. PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and equity in education. Paris: PISA, OECD Publishing.
SCRGSP (Steering Committee for the Review of Government Service Provision) 2019. Report on Government Services 2019. Canberra: Productivity Commission.
Thomson S, Hillman K, Schmid M, Rodrigues S & Fullarton J 2017a. Reporting Australia’s results PIRLS 2016. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.
Thomson S, Wernert N, O’Grady E & Rodrigues S 2017b. TIMSS 2015: Reporting Australia’s results. Camberwell: Australian Council for Educational Research.
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