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31 In 2008 the school leaving age in Western Australia was raised from 16 years to 17 years, unless the person was in alternative training or in approved employment.
32 In 2007 Queensland introduced a formal Pre-year 1 (Preparatory). In that year, around two-thirds of the expected cohort was enrolled. In 2008, 95% of the expected cohort was enrolled in Pre-year 1. The introduction also resulted in a significant difference in enrolments from 2012 to 2013 for Years 5 and 6 as the half-cohort moved to Year 6 in 2013.
33 In 2006 Western Australia raised the school leaving age to 16 years.
34 In 2003 the majority of students in a small number of Western Australian colleges fell out-of-scope of the NSSC and were reclassified as part of the vocational education and training sector. The removal of these students in 2003 may affect comparisons of breakdowns of students by grade and apparent retention rates with previous years.
35 In 2002 Pre-year 1 in Western Australia was extended to five days a week, bringing these students within the scope of the NSSC. This may affect comparisons of Pre-year 1 students and total numbers of students with previous years.
36 In 2002 Western Australia changed the age at which children may commence Pre-year 1. Prior to 2002, students could commence Pre-year 1 if they were turning five at any time during the year. From 2002, children must turn five by 30 June in the year they intend to commence Pre-year 1. This resulted in a cohort two-thirds of normal size entering the school system in 2002.
37 The methodologies employed in compiling the government sector data vary between the different state and territory departments of education. Data may be accessed from central administrative records or collected directly from education establishments.
38 The Australian Government Department of Education collects data directly from establishments in the non-government sector for all states and territories for administrative purposes. The non-government sector statistics in this publication are a summary of results from that collection.
39 In 2010 and 2011, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory provided student unit record level data for these statistics. This followed studies conducted by the ABS demonstrating that no break in series would occur by using unit record level data. The collection methods for the relevant departments were similar to those used for their aggregate submissions in previous years.
40 In 2012 and 2013, Tasmania provided unit record level data.
SCHOOLS OVER TIME
41 The number of schools in a particular year may vary due to administrative changes which alter the composition of schools. For example, secondary schools may split to create middle schools and senior secondary schools, or schools may fall in or out of scope based on changes in the major activity of the establishment. Each scenario may affect the number of schools reported year to year.
INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS
42 When interpreting the figures in this publication, users should be aware that the comparability of statistics between states and territories, and between government and non-government schools in any one state or territory, may be affected by things such as differences in the organisation of grades, policy on student intake and advancement, flows from secondary to vocational education, and the recruitment and employment of teachers.
43 Relatively small changes in the absolute numbers of a population can create large movements in rates and ratios. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and subcategories of the non-government affiliation and cross tabulated characteristics.
44 There is no Australia-wide standard method of allocating students and classes to a particular grade of school education. A number of schools (other than special schools) do not maintain a formal grade structure. Where possible, students at these schools have been allocated to equivalent grades by the relevant education authorities, but otherwise appear against the ungraded category in either the primary or secondary level of school education.
45 The Estimated Resident Population (ERP) series is used in the calculation of some rates in this publication. It is used to account for movements in population, such as migration. Where ERP is used it is used as a denominator to calculate students as a proportion of the population.
46 The ERP is a quarterly estimate of the population of Australia, based on data from the quinquennial ABS Census of Population and Housing, and is updated using information on births, deaths, and overseas and internal migration provided by state, territory and Australian government departments. For more information, see: ABS Australian Demographic Statistics (cat. no. 3101.0).
RATES USED IN THIS PUBLICATION
47 This publication contains a number of rates relating to the proportion of students proceeding through the school system. To produce an actual measurement of, for example, the proportion of students who progressed at the expected rate from one grade to the next over one year, analysis on the status of every student between years would be required to determine whether they progressed as expected, progressed but transferred to another jurisdiction or school of different affiliation, repeated or left school entirely. At present, conducting such analysis of all individuals through linking student enrolment information between different years and across jurisdictions is not able to be undertaken.
48 Instead, a methodology is used to calculate rates based on total reported cohort populations in a selected jurisdiction at a selected year either as a percentage of the total population (ERP) or as a percentage of the population for the cohort in an earlier year. For example in NSW in 2011, there were 45,262 students aged 15 and ERP indicated there were 46,358 persons aged 15. In 2012, in NSW there were 41,195 students aged 16 and ERP indicated there were 46,741 persons aged 16. This equates to an Apparent Continuation Rate (ACR) of 100*(41,195/46,741)/(45,262/46,358) or 90.3%. Rates calculated by this methodology are known as 'apparent' rates. Accordingly, the term 'apparent' is used to refer to all rates in the publication where they are not the 'actual' rate that would result from direct measurement.
49 There are a number of reasons why apparent rates may generate results that differ from actual rates. These reasons include, but are not limited to:
50 Other factors that may affect comparability of rates are:
51 It's also important to note data comparability issues can be significant when rates utilise data from composite sources. For example an ACR will use a numerator from the National Schools Statistics Collection and a denominator of Estimated Resident Population (an aggregate derived data series compiled from the Census of Population and Housing, the Census Post Enumeration Survey and administrative data to measure components of population change over time). When developing an indicator using data from different sources, significant data comparability issues can emerge that will affect the accuracy of the indicator. In many cases these differences can have apparently implausible or unexpected effects - for example producing an estimate significantly greater than 100% of the population with a particular attribute (such as the number of students of a specific age continuing to the next year of school). These effects are particularly apparent where a cohort is small and the phenomena being measured applies to close to 100% of the population.
52 The formulae and methodology used for the calculation of School Participation Rates, Apparent Continuation Rates and Apparent Progression Rates are available in the Research Paper: Deriving Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education from the National Schools Statistics Collection (cat. no.1351.0.55.016) published in December 2006.
APPARENT RETENTION RATE (ARR)
53 This provides an indicative measure of the number of full-time school students who have stayed in school, as at a designated year and grade of education. It is expressed as a percentage of the respective cohort group that those students would be expected to have come from, assuming an expected rate of progression of one grade per year.
54 The grade of commencement of secondary school varies across states and territories and over time. Rates that use the grade of commencement of secondary school as the base grade may use a different base grade for each state and territory, depending on the schooling structure in each state and territory. These data are comparable as the cohorts are retrospective to the grade and year from which the rate is calculated. These variations are incorporated into the calculation of rates at the Australia level. For more information, see: Data Comparability section.
55 In 2008, the structure of schooling in the Northern Territory changed with Year 7 becoming the first year of secondary schooling, whereas previously it was Year 8. As the first grade of secondary education is used as the base for the calculation of Apparent Retention Rates (ARRs), Year 8 is the base for the cohort commencing secondary school in 2008. For cohorts commencing secondary school post 2008, Year 7 is the base. This may affect comparisons with previous rates. Year 7 is the base for ARRS for:
56 In small populations, relatively small changes in student numbers can create large movements in apparent retention rates. These populations might include smaller jurisdictions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and subcategories of the non-government affiliation. Changes in such factors outlined in paragraph 49 may be more noticeable in these populations.
APPARENT CONTINUATION RATE (ACR)
57 This is a measure of the proportion of an age group of students (full-time and part-time) who have continued from one calendar year to the next. It can be expressed as the school participation rate of a population age cohort in one year as a percentage of the school participation rate of the same population age cohort in the previous year.
58 In calculating the ACR for the sum of a variable (such as 'sex' or 'jurisdiction'), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.
59 For example, an ACR at the Australia level is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state/territory in the overall composition of Australia. If students in jurisdiction X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in jurisdiction Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the ACR of jurisdiction X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the ACR of jurisdiction Y students when it comes to averaging each jurisdiction's ACR to calculate the Australia total.
60 The ACR includes both full-time and part-time students, and is adjusted to factor for changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the ACR.
61 Unlike the ARR, the ACR is not able to provide breakdowns by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, or affiliation. For more information, see: Appendix 3: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).
APPARENT PROGRESSION RATE (APR)
62 This is a measure of the proportion of a cohort of full-time students that moves from one grade to the next at an expected rate of one grade per year.
63 In calculating the APR for the sum of a variable (such as 'sex' or 'jurisdiction'), weights have been introduced to allow for the different proportions that each component item contributes to the total.
64 For example, an APR at the Australia level is produced by weighting the proportion of students in each state/territory in the overall composition of Australia. If students in jurisdiction X comprise 24% of all students in Australia in a given cohort, and students in jurisdiction Y comprise 2.4% of the same cohort, then the APR of jurisdiction X students will be weighted 10 times more heavily than the APR of jurisdiction Y students when it comes to averaging each jurisdiction's APR to calculate the Australia total.
65 The APR is adjusted to factor in changes in the population. Other factors unaccounted for in the ARR similarly affect the APR. Unlike the ARR, the APR cannot provide breakdowns by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status or affiliation. For more information, see: Appendix 3: Alternative Measures of Engagement in Secondary Education, 2009 (cat. no. 4221.0).
SCHOOL PARTICIPATION RATE (SPR)
66 This is a measure of the number of school students of a particular age expressed as a proportion of the Estimated Resident Population (ERP) of the same age. It indicates the proportion of the population by age who are at school. In some jurisdictions, such as the Australian Capital Territory, some rates exceed 100%. This is mainly due to the enrolment of students in ACT schools who are not usual residents of the ACT, but who live in surrounding New South Wales regions. As a result of the relative sizes of the populations this has a larger effect on the ACT rates than the NSW rates. This is referred to as cross-border enrolment.
67 Some students from overseas who enter Australia on a short-term visa (less than 12 months) are not considered Australian residents for ERP, although they are counted in the NSSC. The effect of these students is likely to be negligible.
68 Non-participation in school education is not calculated for inclusion into this publication as it cannot be accurately calculated by the difference between NSSC student counts and ERP, as ERP data is an aggregate estimate only. In addition, ERP data is based on usual residence within a defined state or territory boundary, while school data may include students who cross those boundaries to attend school. As previously noted, NSSC counts may also include students not counted in ERP, such as the children of foreign diplomats.
FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT (FTE) STUDENT/TEACHING STAFF RATIOS
69 FTE student/teaching staff ratios are calculated by dividing the FTE student figure by the FTE teaching staff figure. Student/teaching staff ratios are an indicator of the level of staffing resources used and should not be used as a measure of class size. They do not take account of teacher aides and other non-teaching staff who may also assist in the delivery of school education.
RELATED PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS
70 The Schools, Australia, Preliminary publication (cat. no. 4220.0) was discontinued in 2010.
71 Other ABS publications which may be of interest to Schools, Australia readers are:
72 Additional information can be found in publications produced by ABS offices in each state and territory including the Census of Population and Housing, various publications of the Australian Government Department of Education, the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC), the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the education chapter of the annual Report on Government Services (RoGS), and reports of national partnerships and agreements under the Council of Australian Governments such as the National Indigenous Reform Agreement (NIRA). Information is also available in annual reports of the various state and territory departments of education, and in annual reports of the various non-government affiliated offices or licensing authorities.
73 Education & Training has a theme page on the ABS web site for the dissemination of information: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/c311215.nsf/web/Education+and+Training
74 Statistics available through the ABS are listed on the website at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/statistics?opendocument
75 The ABS also issues a daily Release Advice on the web site which outlines upcoming releases: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/webpages/ABS+Release+Advice
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