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The Australian National University

Education Part 2: School Education

Abstract

Using data from the two most recent censuses, the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY) and the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), this paper aims to provide an up-to-date picture of the schooling experience of Indigenous children. The major finding from the census analysis is that there have been significant improvements in the rate of Indigenous high school completion, both in absolute terms and relative to the non-Indigenous population. Large gaps still remain though and in all regions of Australia apart from the Torres Strait, Indigenous youth are less likely to complete Year 12 than their non-Indigenous counterparts. Geography explains some of this difference. However, even if Indigenous Australians had the same geographic distribution as the non-Indigenous population, Year 12 completion rates would still be lower. Analysis of the LSAY showed that socioeconomic status and school sector explains some, but not all of the difference in maths, reading and science test scores amongst a nationally representative cohort of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students who were aged 15 in 2009. Indigenous students are less likely to be attending a non-government school than their non-Indigenous counterparts. However, even within a particular school sector, there appears to be significant differences in the schooling context of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

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