New research by children’s education charity The Smith Family shows school attendance rates in Year 7 can predict students at risk of not completing Year 12.
The report – titled: Attendance lifts achievement: Building the evidence base to improve student outcomes – is the first to demonstrate the relationship between students’ attendance, English or Maths achievement, school completion and post-school work or study
According to the data, three in four students (75%) with high attendance in Year 7 completed Year 12 compared to less than half (48%) of those with very low attendance, according to the study of more than 30,000 Australian school students.
“Thousands of young Australians are not achieving educationally,” Anne Hampshire, The Smith Family’s Head of Research and Advocacy, said.
“Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly at risk of poor educational outcomes. We want to be able to identify as early as possible those young people who need extra support.”
The Smith Family’s research has found that attendance and achievement even in a child’s early years of high school can help identify students at risk of not completing Year 12.
Hampshire said that while these findings make intuitive sense, this is the first time the relationships between outcomes across a young person’s educational journey have been confirmed.
“Intuition is not enough on which to base our educational investment. We need evidence to build a more sophisticated understanding of the early flags for poor educational outcomes,” Hampshire said.
“By using this data, we can improve the effectiveness of our own programs but the impact of this research is far broader.
We’re hoping schools, parents, education departments and those who invest in educational initiatives will use this evidence – because if we use evidence we can help improve the educational outcomes of all young Australians, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Smith Family’s Early School Leavers initiative is being trialled with students on the Learning for Life program in 10 communities across NSW and Victoria in 2018, with the support of the Citi Foundation.
The pilot uses educational data (such as attendance and achievement) to identify young people at risk of early school leaving and provides more intensive support to help them stay at school.
This includes career coaching to help them set goals for the future, skills development opportunities including with employers, vocational cadetships and referrals to community supports and services.
“Being able to identify which students are at risk of leaving school early and providing them with additional support to complete Year 12 will help them achieve better long-term life outcomes and positively impact on the Australian community,” Hampshire said.
Hampshire said that the “conservative” economic cost to the nation is close to $1m for every young person who doesn’t complete school.
“In addition, there’s a huge cost to the young person themselves – they’re more likely to have poorer health outcomes, be reliant on income support and socially disconnected from their community,” she said.
“This means there’s a real burden, both to the young person but also to the nation as a whole.”