Contextual Factors that Influence the Achievement of Australia’s Indigenous Students: Results from PISA 2000–2006

From the Publisher: "The analyses presented in this report show that there are still large gaps in the socioeconomic background of [Australian] Indigenous and non- Indigenous students. Lower levels of attendance at pre-school, less access to home educational resources, and parents with lower levels of experience of education contribute to many Indigenous children starting school at a disadvantage and then these problems compound as throughout their school lives Indigenous students are more likely to be late to school on a regular basis, to miss consecutive months of schooling, and to change school several times. In national tests in the early years of primary schooling, Indigenous students consistently achieve at lower levels than their non- Indigenous peers, and as schooling continues, the gaps that are there at the beginning of primary school gradually widen as poor attendance compounds a poor start to school. Lower achievement and discontinuity of schooling can lead to lower levels of self-confidence and self-efficacy, which in turn further hinder academic achievement. One of the aims of education is to provide students with opportunities in their lives, and it is important that students and their parents understand the impact of their choices in terms of limiting these opportunity. School systems can and should have a role in furthering this understanding, not just putting punitive measures into place to combat truancy." 

Content Comments 

The purposes of this report are effectively stated and reached, using strong methodology and comprehensive analyses. The authors explore a broad range of factors relevant to achievement of Indigenous (native) students in Australia which may provide parallel insight into achievement of American Indian students. Communications quality, both in writing and design, are excellent. The executive summary and conclusions may provide sufficient detail for most audiences, including policymakers. Utility should be reasonably high, especially for anyone interested in American Indian student background factors and their impact on achievement. Although evidence of effectiveness is not addressed, the high quality of methods, using large samples of students taking an international assessment, suggests a reasonable impact on achievement.