Student outcomes - what the research tells us
While coming from a low socio-economic background is not necessarily predictive of success or failure for individual students, the achievement levels for this sub-group as a whole within our schools are cause for great concern. These factors indicate that schools with students from low socio-economic backgrounds require additional support to achieve the same outcomes for them as for other groups of students.
Socio-economic disadvantage is generally associated with factors such as low-quality living environments, mobility, family unemployment or underemployment, lack of access to resources that stimulate learning such as books and pre-school programs, poor health and social discrimination. These circumstances equate with poor attendance, lower retention rates, less readiness for schooling and poorer average outcomes at school.
Schools serving such communities can also suffer from less advantageous physical circumstances, are often characterised by higher rates of staff transience, and often have less qualified and experienced staff.
Given these circumstances, these students' poorer outcomes may not be surprising.
Schools cannot be held responsible for overcoming all the social ills that may grip their communities. However, it is each schools responsibility to understand these circumstances, the effect they may have on students' readiness to learn and willingness to continue learning, and to develop appropriate initiatives to address these issues.
In this context, it is also fundamental that schools set high expectations for all students. It is important they appreciate that all students can learn and want to be understood and successful, and schools must do all they can to optimise every students' learning outcomes.
Research indicates that schools are not hostage to the socio-economic context of their locations and that initiatives undertaken by schools can have a dramatic impact on the learning outcomes of...