Australia ranks poorly in OECD PISA 2018 report

Australia’s poor ranking in the latest OECD report on worldwide education indicators provides further evidence of the impact of government school funding policies on resource equity, staffing, student opportunity and outcomes.

The PISA 2018 Results: Effective Policies, Successful Schools (Vol 5) report shows that despite Australia’s high GDP per capita and position as one of the world’s most advanced economies, government policy settings have meant that Australia is demonstrably lacking in many of the characteristics that are common to successful and equitable education systems.

According to the report:

  • Australia is ninth-worst of 77 countries for the equitable allocation of resources between disadvantaged and advantaged schools. Only Colombia, Panama, Peru, Cyprus, Philippines, Mexico. Brazil and Thailand rank lower
  • Australia is 15th in the OECD in spending per student, behind countries including Norway, US, Iceland, Sweden, Belgium, Korea, Finland UK and Singapore.
  • Australia is also equal 15th in reading performance
  • Australia scores almost five times worse than the OECD average in terms of the unequitable allocation of resources to disadvantaged schools
  • Australia was one of only eight countries that recorded that socio economic status has a negative impact on the likelihood of students expecting a high-skill occupation
  • Access to portable computers for students in disadvantaged school has declined by 3% since 2015 whilst access for students in advantaged schools has increased by 9%
  • Australia had almost double the OECD average for non-attendance at preschool (6.2% OECD average vs 11.5% Australia)

AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe said that achieving greater equity in education in Australia was critically important to ensure that every student was equipped with the knowledge and skills needed for their future and for the future of the nation.

“Commonwealth and state/territory bilateral funding agreements will leave public schools under-resourced by tens of billions of dollars by 2023,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“This report provides further evidence of the clear and urgent need for governments to address school funding inequality as an immediate priority for our students.”

“PISA 2018 shows that Australia does not rank well on the global stage when it comes to funding equity for disadvantaged schools, with overall investment significantly behind that of many comparable nations,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“The report shows IT access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds going backwards since 2015, further evidence that digital exclusion is real and impacts deeply on student outcomes.”

“For every child to achieve their full potential, Australia’s funding inequality must be rectified. It is a joint responsibility between the Commonwealth and State and Territory governments to ensure that public schools and preschools have the resources needed to cater for the educational needs of every child,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“In next week’s Federal Budget, the Morrison Government must put public school students at the heart of Australia’s economic recovery by ensuring that all schools are funded at a minimum of 100% of the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS).”