National Report on Schooling in Australia 2011

Student participation

4.3 Attendance

The National Education Agreement and the Schools Assistance Act 2008 adopt the key performance measure (KPM) for attendance as agreed to by Education Ministers and included in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2010 as KPM 7(b).
KPM 7(b) is defined as:
The number of actual full-time equivalent student-days attended by full-time students in Years 1 to 10 as a percentage of the total number of possible student-days attended over the period.
The NEA also specifies that this KPM will be disaggregated by State/Territory and school sector for all students, Indigenous status students and by socio-economic status and that the period for this collection will be Semester 1 of each school year for government school systems (Term 1 for Tasmania) and the last 20 school days in May of each school year for non-government schools.
In 2011, all school sectors in all States and Territories collected and reported attendance data for Years 1 to 10 for the specified period.
However, because the definitions and methodologies used by jurisdictions and sectors to collect the data are not uniform, accurate comparisons between jurisdictions and sectors cannot currently be made. Nor can the data collected in 2011 be aggregated or averaged to calculate KPM 7(b) at the national level.
As such, reporting against this indicator remains in a transitional phase until all jurisdictions and sectors have the capacity to report their data using an agreed national standard. States and Territories and the non-government sectors have been collaborating to standardise the collection and reporting of attendance data, in cooperation with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA).
These standards, once developed, will enable consistent and comparable reporting of attendance rates for students in Years 1 to 10 (including ungraded students where applicable) across all sectors and jurisdictions in Australia for the 2014 collection period and onwards.
For 2011, each jurisdiction has provided explanatory notes about the methods used to collect and report on student attendance data. These explanatory notes, which serve to highlight where and how such differences exist, are attached to Part 10: Glossary.
Tables 15, 16 and 17 in Part 9: Additional Statistics show 2011 attendance data by:
  • school sector

  • State and Territory

  • year level

  • sex.

Tables 15, 16 and 17 depict data for the government, Catholic and independent sectors respectively. The comments below, for each sector, refer to the data in these tables and the corresponding tables in the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 National Reports on Schooling. The comments should be read in conjunction with these tables and with the explanatory notes. The explanatory notes are accompanied by summary attendance tables for 2007–11 for each sector by State and Territory.
Student attendance data by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous status are shown in Tables 54, 55 and 56 in the Additional Statistics section of this report and are discussed in Part 7 of the report.
Although differences in methodology currently prevent direct comparisons of attendance data between jurisdictions and sectors, one characteristic common to all is an apparent fall in attendance rates as students move through secondary school to Year 10.
In 2011, in all sectors in all jurisdictions, Year 10 attendance rates were lower than Year 7 attendance rates. The variations between Year 10 and Year 7 attendance rates were from one to seven percentage points, with larger variations more common in the government sector. Further comments on attendance rates for each sector are included below.

Government school sector

For the 2011 collection period, student attendance rates were largely consistent for Years 1 to 7 with attendance rates dropping for Years 8, 9 and 10. All jurisdictions exhibited similar trends, with the lowest attendance rates recorded for Year 10. Variations between year levels ranged between four and eight percentage points for all jurisdictions. There were smaller variations in attendance rates between year levels in Victoria with up to a four percentage point variation, compared to eight percentage point variations in Tasmania, Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Between 2007 and 2011, there was limited change in student attendance rates for specific Year levels in the government sector in most jurisdictions with variations up to two percentage points. The exception was the Northern Territory where attendance rates for Years 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 fell by up to five percentage points.
In the period 2007–11 Year 10 attendance rates for the government sector in all jurisdictions fell or remained the same. The falls in Year 10 attendance rates in some jurisdictions may be related to increased apparent retention rates from Year 7/8 to Year 10 and increased apparent progression rates from Year 9 to 10. These are outlined in Part 4.2: Progression and retention.
Increased retention of students to Year 10 in the government school sector coincided with strengthened participation requirements for schooling culminating in the National Youth Participation Requirement. Under this requirement, all young people must participate in schooling to Year 10, and then participate full-time in education, training or employment or a combination of these activities until age 17.¹ The requirement came into effect in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory in 2010 (other jurisdictions implemented similar requirements between 2006 and 2008). The effect of the participation requirement is that some students who would otherwise have left school are required to participate in Year 10. This group may have lower attendance rates than the remainder of the Year 10 cohort and, if so, their inclusion in the attendance data would exert a downward pressure on attendance rates for Year 10.
The attendance rates for male and female government school students during the 2011 collection period were fairly even within year levels, within most jurisdictions. Variations, where they occurred, were no more than one or two percentage points.

Catholic school sector

For the 2011 collection period, student attendance rates were largely consistent for Years 1 to 10, with variations up to three percentage points for most jurisdictions. The exceptions were the Northern Territory, where variations of up to 13 percentage points were recorded between year levels, and the Australian Capital Territory where variations of up to four percentage points occurred.
Between 2007 and 2011, there was little change in student attendance rates for specific year levels in the Catholic sector in most jurisdictions with variations up to three percentage points. An exception was the Northern Territory, where the lowest attendance rates since 2007 were recorded in 2011 for Years 2, 7, 9 and 10. The Northern Territory’s Year 10 attendance rate dropped to 74 per cent in 2011 from 82 per cent in 2010.
The attendance rates for male and female Catholic school students during the 2011 collection period were fairly even within year levels, within most jurisdictions, with slightly higher male attendance rates for Years 9 and 10. An exception was again the Northern Territory where the Year 10 male attendance rate was 10 percentage points higher than the female attendance rate and the Years 2 and 7 female attendance rate was higher than the male rate by six to seven percentage points.

Independent school sector

For the 2011 collection period, student attendance rates were generally consistent for Years 1 to 10, with variations between two to four percentage points for all jurisdictions.
Between 2007 and 2011, there was little change in student attendance rates for specific Year levels in the independent sector in most jurisdictions, with variations up to three percentage points. The exception was the Northern Territory where variations of up to seven percentage points were recorded.
The attendance rates for male and female independent school students during the 2011 collection period were fairly even within year levels for most jurisdictions with variations up to two percentage points. In 2011 Tasmania and the Northern Territory recorded slightly higher attendance rates, of between three to four percentage points, for males in Year 10. The Northern Territory recorded a higher attendance rate for females in Year 4; this was four percentage points higher than for the equivalent male attendance rate.
¹ The requirement is part of the National Partnership on Youth Attainment and Transitions which is outlined in Part 2.5: Supporting senior years of schooling and youth transitions.