Products – The Centre for Independent Studies

Overcoming the Odds 2: Where are the top-performing disadvantaged secondary schools?

Blaise Joseph
23 July 2019 | PP21
Overcoming the Odds 2: Where are the top-performing disadvantaged secondary schools?

Students from disadvantaged social backgrounds perform worse academically on average than more advantaged students. However, some students and schools from lower socio-economic backgrounds are successful.

Only 3 Australian secondary schools are both disadvantaged and high-achieving. In contrast, 21 Australian primary schools are both disadvantaged and high-achieving. The particular challenges facing disadvantaged secondary schools can be partly explained by the following:

  1. ‘The Matthew Effect’: the tendency for differences in student achievement in the early years of school to grow into larger differences towards the end of secondary school, unless rectified in early schooling.
  2. Many students attending a local high-achieving primary school do not attend the secondary school in their area.
  3. School discipline problems are especially prevalent among disadvantaged secondary schools, compared to disadvantaged primary schools or more advantaged secondary schools.
  4. Direct instruction — an evidence-based teaching practice, where new content is explicitly taught in sequenced and structured lessons — appears to be less common at disadvantaged secondary schools compared to more advantaged schools.

School systems should focus on early literacy and numeracy to help disadvantaged students. Secondary schools should prioritise identifying underachieving students when they enrol. For parents, the implication is that choice of primary school is just as important as — if not more important than — choice of secondary school for their child’s academic success.

Latest Publications

The Philippines Caught between Appeasing and Constraining China: How Australia can help tip the balance
Renato Cruz De Castro
28 September 2021 | PP44

This paper examines the ongoing clash in the Philippines between government officials who favour appeasement, on the one hand, and those pushing for a policy of constrainment towards China in the South China Sea on the other – and how Australia can help tip the balance towards constrainment. Since taking office in 2016, President Duterte has consistently undermined the country’s…

READ MORE
90 Days to Freedom? Why Australia can learn from Canada’s vaccination success
Robert Carling
18 August 2021 | PP43

Predictions have been made by the Doherty Institute and others that Australia will achieve full vaccination of 70% of the eligible population by the end of October and 80% by mid-November, thereby meeting the thresholds for liberalisation of restrictions set by national cabinet. Doubts that have been expressed about these predicted vaccination levels are unwarranted. Basic modelling and comparisons with…

READ MORE
Crucial Collaboration: The Case for Closer Australia-UK Defence and Security Ties in Light of a Rising China
Tom Tugendhat
23 June 2021 | PP42

China’s rise is perhaps the single most significant geopolitical question of the next decade – indeed, the next century. The sheer scale of its economy and military, combined with an increasingly authoritarian regime under Xi Jinping, means that the Indo-Pacific lies at the heart of the China challenge. Growing militarisation and Chinese aggression are destabilising the region, whilst Beijing’s willingness…

READ MORE
The MMT Hoax
Tony Makin, Gene Tunny
27 May 2021 | PP41

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) is a supposedly new macroeconomic paradigm, but it is essentially a reprise of 1930s Keynesian economics. Its central premise — that countries which can borrow in their own currencies should not worry about government deficits and can finance as much government spending as they want — is deeply flawed, yet it has political appeal and has…

READ MORE
Does high-rise development damage neighbourhood character?
Peter Tulip, Zachary Lanigan
29 April 2021 | PP40

Local residents often oppose new apartment buildings on the grounds that they would harm neighbourhood character. This paper suggests these concerns are overstated. The paper examines several examples of high-rise development in Sydney: Chatswood, Forest Lodge, Green Square, Liverpool and Turrella. If these developments harmed neighbourhood character, as local residents often claim, nearby house prices should fall. But that does…

READ MORE