There is nothing more radical than providing equal access to quality education. Only when students’ ability, will, and perseverance determines how well they perform at school — not their socio-economic background — will Australian society be truly inclusive, equitable and just.
We’re not there yet. In fact, things have gotten worse in Australia in recent years. PISA 9 and NAPLAN10 figures show a growing gap in educational achievement related to socio-economic status. In maths, the achievement gap between the least and most advantaged students is significant. Students in disadvantaged secondary schools are making around half the progress in numeracy compared to students in advantaged schools. And in many cases, students in disadvantaged schools are making a lot less than a year worth of growth each year.11
Maths Pathway is pushing back against social inequity. In 2018, the mean improvement rate for students in disadvantaged schools was 2.61, compared to the still impressive improvement rate of 1.97 for learners in more privileged schools. In other words, Maths Pathway students in all schools are learning more rapidly than they were before – but this effect is even stronger for underprivileged students. We are helping teachers provide a clear pathway for those deprived of the best start in life to achieve and excel.
These results also support research findings12 that leadership quality, school culture, consistency of teacher practice and teacher professional development are more important drivers for growth than size, sector, remoteness or socio-economic background. This is why the Maths Pathway model at its core is about teacher practice, providing schools with a scalable framework and supporting teachers and leaders through personalised coaching and ongoing professional learning opportunities.
9. Programme for International Student Assessment 2015, PISA: 2015 reporting Australia’s results, Australian Council for Educational Research,
10. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Association 2019., National Assessment Program Literary and Numeracy, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority <https://nap.edu.au/docs/default-source/resources/naplan-2019-national-report.pdf?sfvrsn=2>
11. Goss, P, Sonnemann, J 2018, Measuring student progress: a state-by-state report card, Grattan Institute, Melbourne, <https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Mapping_Student_Progress.pdf>
12. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation 2015, High value-add schools: key drivers of school improvement, Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, Sydney, <https://www.cese.nsw.gov.au/images/stories/PDF/HVA-Report-August-2015_FA_AA.pdf>
13. Goss, P & Chisholm, C 2016, Widening gaps: what NAPLAN tells us about student progress, <https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/937-Widening-gaps-technical-report.pdf>
14. Goss, P, Sonneman, 2018, Measuring student progress: A state-by-state report card, Grattan Institute, Melbourne, <https://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/910-Mapping-Student-Progress.pdf>