National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

7.3 Attendance (comprising enrolment, progression, retention and attendance)

Within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014 the domain ‘attendance’ includes targets and performance indicators, not only for attendance rates but also for enrolment and for progression from one secondary school year level or grade to the next, as well as for retention from Year 7/8 to Years 10 and 12. This chapter includes data and commentary on measures of:

  • Enrolment
  • Progression
  • Retention
  • Attendance.

These measures are grouped as ‘participation’ measures elsewhere in this report.

7.3.1 Enrolment

The proportion of children of compulsory school age who are enrolled in school is a measure of the reach and coverage of Australian schooling. It is a performance indicator for schooling in the National Education Agreement and is a key performance measure (KPM) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012.

This measure is defined as the number of students aged 6 to 15 years enrolled in school, expressed as a proportion of the 6 to 15-year-old population. The Measurement Framework states that measures should, where feasible and appropriate, be reported disaggregated by equity subgroup, including by Indigenous status.

This disaggregated measure is also specified as an indicator in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014.

While this disaggregated measure was reported in some earlier editions of the National Report on Schooling in Australia, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) advised that such reporting is not appropriate or reliable¹. Jurisdictions agreed that this KPM, disaggregated by Indigenous status, would no longer be published from 2011.

It is possible to report the number and proportion of Indigenous students enrolled in schools by school level and sector, where both numerator and denominator are collected through the National Schools Statistics Collection NSSC. These figures, which report the number of Indigenous students (full-time and part-time) enrolled in schools, relative to total enrolments are provided in Tables 7.1 and 7.2 below.

Table 7.1 shows the number and proportion of Indigenous students enrolled in schools broken down by school sector and school level.

Additional Statistics Table 38 reports individual enrolments by Indigenous status in 2012 by full-time and part-time and by state and territory as well as by school level and sector.

Table 7.1 Number and proportion of Indigenous students (full-time and part-time) enrolled in schools by school level and sector(a)(b)(c)(d), Australia, 2012

Table 7.1 Number and proportion of Indigenousbbbbb

(a) Primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 6 in NSW, Vic., Tas., NT and ACT. In Qld, SA and WA, primary education comprises a pre-Year 1 grade followed by Years 1 to 7.

(b) Junior secondary is the years from commencement of secondary school to Year 10, including ungraded secondary.

(c) Senior secondary includes Years 11 and 12.

(d) Students attending special schools are allocated to either primary or secondary school on the basis of grade or school level where identified. Where the grade or school level is not identified, students are allocated to primary or secondary level of education according to the typical age level in each state or territory. See Glossary for definition of special schools.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia2

See also Additional Statistics Table 38


As shown in Table 7.1, in 2012, 84.8 per cent of Indigenous students were enrolled in government schools, 9.9 per cent were enrolled in Catholic schools and 5.3 per cent were enrolled in independent schools.

This compares to 65.2 per cent, 20.5 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively for all students, as reported in Part 4.1: Student participation – enrolment, demonstrating the higher concentration of Indigenous students enrolled in the government sector.

The proportion of Indigenous students in Catholic and independent schools is higher for secondary schools than it is for primary schools. The difference is particularly pronounced for independent schools where the proportion of Indigenous students is 3.5 per cent in primary school and 8.4 per cent in secondary school.

Table 7.2 Number of Indigenous students (full-time and part-time) enrolled by sector, Australia, 2008–12

Table 7.2 Number of Indigenous studentsFT

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia

See also Additional Statistics Table 38

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia, 2012


The number of Indigenous students enrolled in all three sectors has risen over the last five years.

7.3.2 Progression

An apparent grade progression rate estimates the progression of students from one school grade (year level) to the next and is a specific application of the apparent retention rate. It is calculated as the number of full-time students in a designated grade/year level as a percentage of the number enrolled in the grade/year level below in the previous calendar year, at the time of the annual August schools census.

Apparent grade progression rates from Years 8 to 12 are not KPMs for schooling but, when compared by Indigenous status, provide information on the points at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students leave school. 'Progression ratios for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' is specified as a performance indicator in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2010–2014.

As Table 7.3 shows, nearly all Indigenous students proceeded to Year 10 in 2012. However, compared to non-Indigenous students, higher proportions of Indigenous students left school before completing senior school studies. The percentage point gaps for the apparent progression rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students were markedly larger for Year 10–11 and Year 11–12.


 
Table 7.3 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rates (per cent) and the percentage point gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rates, Australia, 2012

Table 7.3 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigenyy

Notes:

Apparent grade progression rates measure the number of full-time school students in a designated Year (level) of education as a percentage of their respective cohort group in the previous calendar year (the base year). Ungraded students are not included.

Care should be taken when interpreting these rates since a range of factors affecting the calculation are not taken into account, such as migration, students repeating a year of schooling and changes to part-time and full-time attendance patterns. Percentage point gap calculations are based on unrounded data.

The above apparent grade progression rates are not published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia. They can, however, be derived using full-time student counts that are included in that publication.

The above apparent grade progression rates reflect single year increments of the apparent retention rate concept published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia. The above apparent grade progression rates do not rely on population data, unlike the progression rates published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia.

Source: ABS

See also Additional Statistics Table 45


 
Table 7.4 presents national apparent grade progression rates by Indigenous status and the percentage point gaps over the period 2008-12.

Table 7.4 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rates (per cent) and the percentage point gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rates, Australia, 2008–12

Table 7.4 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigen99

Notes:

Apparent grade progression rates measure the number of full-time school students in a designated Year (level) of education as a percentage of their respective cohort group in the previous calendar year (the base year). Ungraded students are not included.

Care should be taken when interpreting these rates since a range of factors affecting the calculation are not taken into account, such as migration, students repeating a year of schooling and changes to part-time and full-time attendance patterns.

Percentage point gap calculations are based on unrounded data.

The apparent grade progression rates above are not published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia. They can, however, be derived using full-time student counts that are included in that publication.

The above apparent grade progression rates reflect single year increments of the apparent retention rate concept published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia. The above apparent grade progression rates do not rely on population data, unlike the progression rates published in ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia.

Source: ABS

See also Additional Statistics Table 45


 
In 2012, the gap between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rates from Year 9 to Year 10 narrowed to 3.7 per cent compared to a gap of 7.3 per cent in 2008. However, the gap has increased from 2.8 per cent in 2011, partly due to a decrease in apparent grade retention for Indigenous students from 97.8 in 2011 to 97.1 in 2012.

The changes in apparent grade progression rates in 2010 and 2011 followed the adoption of the National Youth Participation Requirement in 2010 (requiring students to complete Year 10 and to remain at school or an approved alternative until they turn 17) in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, joining other jurisdictions which had already implemented this requirement.

The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous rates widened as students moved from Year 10 to Year 11 and towards the end of schooling. While the non-Indigenous progression rate remained above 90 per cent, the Indigenous Islander rate was below 80 per cent.

For students moving to Year 12 in 2012, the non-Indigenous apparent grade progression rate remained close to or above 85 per cent and the Indigenous rate remained below 70 per cent.

7.3.3 Retention

Apparent retention rates estimate: the percentage of students who progress from the first year of secondary school (Year 7 or Year 8 depending on the jurisdiction) to Year 10 and Year 12; and the percentage of students who progress from Year 10 to Year 12

Apparent retention rates from Year 10 to Year 12 for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are specified as Key Performance Measure 1(d) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012.

Key Performance Measure 1(d)

‘Retention rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ is listed as a performance indicator in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Closing the Gap targets include halving the gap between Indigenous and other students in the completion of Year 12 or its equivalent or Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II by 2020.

Secondary school apparent retention rates from Year 7/8 to Year 10 and Year 10 to Year 12 do not directly measure progress towards this target but are related to its Year 12 completion component.

Tables 7.5 and 7.6 show comparative apparent retention rates for Indigenous and non-Indigenous students for 2012 and the period 2008–12.

Table 7.5 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent retention rates, Australia, 2012
(per cent)


Table 7.5 Comparative Indigenous and non-IndigLLLL

Notes:

The apparent retention rate (ARR) measures the number of full-time school students in a designated level/year of education as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year. The base year for the ARR from Year 7/8 to Year 10 is the first year of secondary school – Year 7 in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT; Year 8 in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Ungraded students are not included in the calculations. The base year for the ARR from Year 10 to Year 12 in all states and territories is Year 10.

Factors that may affect apparent retention rates at the national level include international migration, students repeating a year of education, students changing between full-time and part-time study and age requirements for participation in education. These factors may account for apparent retention rates exceeding 100%.

Apparent retention rates for Indigenous students can be affected by the disposition to identify as Indigenous over time.

Issues that may affect comparability over time can be found in the Explanatory Notes of the source publication.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia

See also Additional Statistics Tables 46-48
 


 
Table 7.6 Comparative Indigenous and non-Indigenous apparent retention rates, Australia, 2008–12 (per cent)

Table 7.6 Comparative Indigenous and non-IndigenJJ

Notes:

The apparent retention rate (ARR) measures the number of full-time school students in a designated level/year of education as a percentage of their respective cohort group in a base year. The base year for the ARR from Year 7/8 to Year 10 is the first year of secondary school – Year 7 in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT; Year 8 in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Ungraded students are not included in the calculations. The base year for the ARR from Year 10 to Year 12 in all states and territories is Year 10.

Factors that may affect apparent retention rates at the national level include international migration, students repeating a year of education, students changing between full-time and part-time study and age requirements for participation in education. These factors may account for apparent retention rates exceeding 100%.

Apparent retention rates for Indigenous students can be affected by the disposition to identify as Indigenous over time.

Issues that may affect comparability over time can be found in the Explanatory Notes of the source publication.

Source: ABS, Cat. No. 4221.0, Schools, Australia

See also Additional Statistics Tables 46-48


 
Indigenous student apparent retention rates at the national level have risen since 2008 but are lower than those for non-Indigenous students. In 2012, the apparent retention rate for Indigenous full-time students from Year 7/8 to Year 10 was 98.4 per cent, a substantial rise from 89.8 per cent in 2008. The increases from 2010 to 2012 followed the adoption of the National Youth Participation Requirement (requiring students to complete Year 10 and to remain at school or an approved alternative until they turn 17) in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, joining other jurisdictions, which had already implemented this requirement.

The gap in Year 7/8 to Year 10 apparent retention rates between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students narrowed by 7.1 percentage points, from 10.1 percentage points in 2008 to only 3.0 percentage points in 2012. Over the period 2008-2012, apparent retention rates from Year 10 to Year 12 rose for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

However, a more rapid rise for non-Indigenous students saw a widening of the gap in this measure by 2.3 percentage points.

7.3.4 Attendance

KPM 1(b) in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012 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.

This is also the performance indicator for attendance adopted in the National Education Agreement (NEA) and for reporting attendance rates under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Action Plan 2010–2014.

However, because the definitions and methodologies used by jurisdictions and sectors to collect the 2012 (and previous years) data are not uniform, accurate comparisons between jurisdictions and sectors cannot currently be made. Nor can the data collected in 2012 be aggregated or averaged to calculate KPM 1(b) at the national level.

All states and territories and the non-government sectors have collaborated to standardise their collections in cooperation with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). These standards 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 2014² collection period and onwards.

Care should be exercised in relation to student attendance data for Indigenous students due to low student numbers in some jurisdictions and sectors especially for Catholic and independent schools.
Tables 42, 43 and 44 in Part 9: Additional Statistics show 2012 student attendance data by:

  • Indigenous status
  • school sector
  • state and territory
  • Year level.

Tables 42, 43 and 44 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 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 publications of the National Report on Schooling in Australia. The comments should be read in conjunction with these tables and with the Explanatory notes for the 2012 student attendance data.

In 2012, the generally higher rate of attendance for non-Indigenous students compared to Indigenous students continued.

Government school sector

Indigenous attendance rates did not equal or exceed those of non-Indigenous students in any year level for the government sector in 2012. For the 2012 collection period, student attendance rates were at or above 80 per cent for Indigenous students across government schools, with the exceptions of Year 10 in Tasmania; Years 9 and 10 in New South Wales and Queensland; Years 8, 9 and 10 in South Australia, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory; and Years 1 to 10 in the Northern Territory. Victoria is the only state to have an attendance rate above 80 per cent for Indigenous students for all year levels between Year 1 and Year 10.

For the 2012 collection period, attendance rates for Indigenous students were largely consistent for Years 1 to 7, then dropping from Years 8 to 10. New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory displayed drops in attendance from Year 7 onwards. The drop in attendance rates from Year 8 onwards is more pronounced than the drop in attendance rates from Year 8 for non-Indigenous students. All jurisdictions exhibit similar trends.

As in 2011, for 2012 the gaps between attendance rates for Indigenous students compared to non-Indigenous students was minimal for Tasmanian government schools where for Years 1–7 the difference did not exceed three percentage points.

The Northern Territory government school sector had large gaps between attendance rates for Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students for all year levels, with gaps in attendance rates ranging from 20 to 30 percentage points. The largest gap in the Northern Territory was for Year 10, where the attendance rate for non-Indigenous students was 30 percentage points higher than attendance rate for Indigenous students.

Non-government school sector

Care should be taken when interpreting attendance rates for Indigenous students in Catholic and independent schools, particularly by year levels, due to the relatively low number of Indigenous students enrolled in Catholic and independent schools.

Due to the relatively low number of enrolled students and high variability between year levels, limited commentary can be provided on Indigenous student attendance rates in Catholic and independent schools (especially for jurisdictions with low enrolment numbers).
 

Catholic school sector

For New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, attendance rates for Indigenous students were largely consistent for all year levels, with five percentage point variations between year levels.

The Northern Territory continues to record the largest gaps between attendance rates for Indigenous students compared to non-Indigenous students for all year levels. Attendance rates for Indigenous students range between 19 and 29 percentage points lower than for non-Indigenous students. The smallest gap was for Years 8 and 10 students where the attendance rate was 19 per cent lower for Indigenous students compared with non-Indigenous students. For Year 10 students, this represents a substantial decrease in the gapfrom 2011, due in part to an increase in attendance for Year 10 Indigenous students from 55 per cent in 2011 to 71 per cent in 2012.
 

Independent school sector

Between 2011 and 2012, the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous student attendance rates for Year 10 have improved or remained stable in half of the jurisdictions, including Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and ACT.

 

 

 

 


¹ Specifically, the number of Indigenous students aged 6–15 years enrolled in school, expressed as a proportion of the 6–15-year-old Indigenous population, is not reliable due to modal differences between the numerator and denominator. The numerator is sourced from the annual National Schools Statistics Collection (NSSC), published by ABS as Schools Australia, whereas the denominator is sourced from the ABS Estimates and Projection, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians which is updated after each five-yearly Census of Population and Housing. The ABS has advised that different rates of Indigenous identification between school enrolments, the five yearly census and other administrative data (e.g. birth and death registrations) may seriously bias the calculated proportion estimate.

² Except for NSW government schools, which will comply with the new standards from 2016

Back to top of page