National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012
Senior schooling and youth transitions
6.3 Student attainment
The attainment key performance measures (KPMs) specified in the Measurement Framework for Schooling in Australia 2012 measure the level of educational attainment achieved by young Australians by the time they have reached their early to mid-twenties.
KPM 7(a) and 7(b) measure the proportions of 20 to 24-year-olds who have completed Year 12 or equivalent¹ or attained an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Certificate II or III or above. These measures reflect the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) targets for youth attainment in education and training.
CI = Confidence Interval
The percentages reported in this table include 95 per cent confidence intervals. Confidence intervals are a way of
expressing the degree of sampling and measurement error associated with survey estimates. For example, an
estimate of 80 with a 95 per cent confidence interval of ±2 means that if the total population were surveyed rather
than a sample, there is a 95 per cent chance that the result would lie between 78 and 82.
Source: ABS, Cat. No. 6227.0, Education and Work, May 2012
See also Part 9: Additional Statistics Tables 31 and 32
The proportion of 20 to 24-year-olds who had attained Year 12 or equivalent or AQF Certificate II or above – KPM 7(a) – rose from 84.2 per cent in 2008 to 85.9 per cent in 2012.
The COAG target for this measure is for it to reach 90 per cent by 2015. Based on 2008–12 data, it appears unlikely that this target will be met at the national level by 2015. However, increased participation in education and training by 15–19-year-olds since 2010, as a result of the Youth Participation Requirement and reported in Part 6.2: Senior schooling and youth transitions – participation in education and work, is likely to translate to increased attainment levels for these students as they move to the 20–24-year-old age bracket. If so, the 2015 target of 90 per cent for the attainment of Year 12 or equivalent or Certificate II by 20–24-year olds may still be achievable.
The proportion of 20–24-year-olds who had attained Year 12 or equivalent or AQF Certificate III or above – KPM 7(b) – rose from 83.2 per cent to 84.6 per cent between 2008 and 2012.
The COAG target for this measure is for it to reach 90 per cent by 2020. Based on the current trend this target is on track to be met at the national level. As is the case for KPM 7(a), KPM 7(b) is likely to move upwards as increased participation in education and training by 15 and 16-year-olds flows on to their levels of attainment in later years.
Figure 6.7 depicts the movement in the two attainment measures from 2008 to 2012, along with the proportion of 20–24-year-olds having attained at least Year 12 or equivalent.
In each of the years 2008–12 there is little difference between the two attainment KPMs (a maximum difference of 1.4 percentage points), and there is parallel movement of the KPMs over the period.²
Both KPMs also closely parallel changes in the proportion of the 20–24-year-olds having attained at least Year 12 or equivalent, which forms the major component of both measures. In 2012, 76.3 per cent of 20–24-year-olds had attained at least Year 12 or equivalent. A further 8.3 per cent who had not attained Year 12 had attained Certificate III or above and a further 1.3 per cent had attained Certificate II or above, but not Year 12 or Certificate III. This is similar to the proportions for the measures in previous years.
The proportion of young people completing Year 12 is not itself a KPM for schooling, as pursuing a vocational qualification post-Year 10 is a legitimate alternative to Years 11 and 12 as a pathway to further education and work. However, as shown in Figure 6.3, it is not only a major component of KPMs 7(a) and 7(b), but is also a determining component, with variations in the two KPMs closely following variations in Year 12 or equivalent attainment.
This has implications for predicting and influencing the COAG measures, as the rate of Year12 completion for current secondary students can be used as an indicator for the future attainment rates for Year 12 or Certificate II or Certificate III or above among 20–24-year-olds.
It is important to note that while the attainment KPMs 7(a) and 7(b) refer to the completion of Year 12 or equivalent or an AQF VET Certificate, this does not imply equivalence between the award of a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education on the completion of Year 12 and either AQF Certificate II or AQF Certificate III. The Senior Secondary Certificate of Education is an AQF qualification but it has not been allocated to a particular level within the AQF. The AQF does not specify equivalence between Senior Secondary Certificates and other AQF qualifications.³
¹ ‘Year 12 or equivalent’ includes the attainment of AQF Senior Secondary Certificates of Education issued by Australasian Curriculum, Assessment and Certification Authorities in each state and territory, senior secondary qualifications issued in other countries and other recognised tertiary preparation qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate. Data collected through the Survey of Education and Work also include some respondents who identify Year 12 as their highest level of schooling completed but who may not have attained a formal Year 12 qualification.
² For the three data sets shown in Table 6.7 and Figure 6.3 the falls in 2011 data are not statistically significant and may reflect sampling variability in the Survey of Education and Work.
³ The volume of learning required to attain an AQF Certificate II is typically 0.5 to 1 year; for Certificate III it is typically 1–2 years and for a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education it is typically 2 years (AQF Second edition p. 14). In some instances, VET in Schools students have the opportunity to complete several Certificate II qualifications as part of their Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.