A major study of NAPLAN results over time found only slight differences in scores between the three school districts, and those differences disappeared once a student’s family background was taken into account.
An analysis of student improvement between Years 3 and 9 also found no variation between the private and public sectors, “thus undermining views that private schools add value to student achievement.” the researchers found.
The research team, led by Sally Larsen of the University of New England, examined the NAPLAN results of more than 1,500 students who participated in the national trial program in years 3, 5, 7 and 9.
They found no difference in the average scores between the three school districts in elementary school, except that 5th grade students in public schools performed better in arithmetic than those in Catholic schools.
The 7th and 9th graders in independent schools were slightly ahead, but their “apparent advantage … disappeared after including the SES [socio-educational status]Â», Indicates the report, published in the newspaper Australian education researcher Tuesday.
âResults like these underscore that the school sector is not a good predictor of the acquisition of basic skills, and suggest that it is the social background and academic ability of children who attend private schools that support the appearance of better quality education.
Dr Larsen said the researchers wanted to find out whether private schools improved student outcomes, given that NAPLAN is being touted as a way to assess how well schools are contributing to students’ reading and numeracy skills.
A student’s background – especially their parents’ education level – is a good predictor of their academic success. However, many parents ignore this when considering the good academic performance of high-fee private schools.
The results of the study may reassure parents that “it’s okay if you can’t afford private schooling,” said Dr Larsen.