A study published in the Australian Journal of Labour Economics has found that once the more privileged background of private school attendees is taken into account, primary school students fare no better in the private education system than in the public system. The research was conducted by the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland and Curtin University.
Co-author of the study, Professor Luke Connelly, said this is the first time such research has been done in the country, looking specifically at kids in years three and five. “At this young age, there is no differences between Catholic, independent and public schools,” he said.
“There’s actually some poorer outcomes for kids at Catholic schools interestingly. That’s also been mirrored in the international literature,” Connelly added.
Catholic school students perform better in peer to peer relationships, but otherwise Connelly revealed there is no “appreciable differences in academic performance”.
While education system does not notably effect children’s academic performance, baby birth weight and parental factors do contribute.
Children with a birth weight of less than 2.5 kilograms achieve significantly lower test scores later in life, particularly in literacy and numeracy.
Professor Connelly said there are a number of other variables that affect class performance.
According to Connelly, these include: “the level of education of the parents, the number of books in the home, also the area – the residential neighbourhood and its characteristics – the household income, and interestingly enough as well the working hours of the mother.”
While increased working hours for the mother correlate with decreased test scores, the working hours of the father proved to have no impact. Furthermore, children with indigenous backgrounds tended to have poorer academic performance, as did those with parents who didn’t complete Year 12.
These results help parents to make important educational decisions for their children. While a private school primary education does not equate to superior academic performance, increased household income, more time spent with the mother and heightened exposure to books do improve a kid’s class performance.
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