National Report on Schooling in Australia 2012

Student participation

4.3 Attendance

The National Education Agreement (NEA) 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 2012 as KPM 1(b).

KPM 1(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 2012, all school sectors in all states and territories collected and reported attendance data for Years 1–10 for the specified period.

However, because the definitions and methodologies used by jurisdictions and sectors to collect the data are not yet 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.

In 2012, agreement was reached by all jurisdictions and sectors on new standards for the collection and reporting of nationally consistent student attendance data. This resulted from work undertaken by all states, territories and the non-government school sectors in collaboration with the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). The new National Standards for Student Attendance Data Reporting were published on the ACARA website in December 2012.

These standards will enable consistent and comparable reporting of attendance rates, including the calculation of KPM 1(b) at the national level, for students in Years 1–10 (including ungraded students where applicable) across all sectors and jurisdictions in Australia for the 2014 data collection period and onwards. The non-government sectors have agreed to conform to the national standards from the 2013 data collection period.

For 2012, 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 differences in methodology still exist, are attached to the glossary of this report.

Tables 17, 18 and 19 in Part 9: Additional Statistics show 2012 attendance data by:

• school sector
• state and territory

• year level
• sex.

These tables depict data for the government, Catholic and independent sectors respectively. They also include by summary data for 2008–12 for each sector by state and territory. The comments below for each sector should be read in conjunction with these tables and with the explanatory notes on attendance data.

Attendance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is discussed in Part 7.

Although differences in methodology currently prevent direct comparisons of attendance data between jurisdictions and sectors, a common characteristic is an apparent fall in attendance rates as students move from primary to secondary school and through secondary school to Year 10.

In 2012, Year 10 attendance rates were lower than those for the first year of secondary school in all sectors in all jurisdictions (with the exception of Northern Territory Catholic schools). The differences between Year 7/8 and Year 10 attendance rates were typically between two and five percentage points. More specific comments on attendance rates for each sector are below.

Government school sector

For the 2012 collection period, student attendance rates for all states and the Australian Capital Territory were consistently in the range of 92–94 per cent for Years 1–7 dropping to between 86 and 92 per cent for Years 8, 9 and 10. Rates for the Northern Territory were lower across all years. All jurisdictions exhibited similar patterns, with the lowest attendance rates recorded for Year 10. Differences in rates between year levels ranged between three and eight percentage points. There were smaller variations in attendance rates between year levels in Victoria with up to a three percentage point variation, compared to eight percentage point variations in Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The attendance rates for male and female government school students during the 2012 collection period were fairly even within year levels, within most jurisdictions. Variations, where they occurred, were no more than three percentage points.

Between 2008 and 2012, there was limited change in student attendance rates for specific year levels in the government sector in most jurisdictions.

Catholic school sector

For the 2012 collection period, student attendance rates were consistently in the 93–95 per cent range for Years 1–7/8, with some decline in junior secondary years. The exception was the Northern Territory, where all rates were lower.

Between 2008 and 2012, there was little change in student attendance rates for specific year levels in the Catholic sector in most jurisdictions, with variations up to four percentage points. The exception was the Northern Territory, where there were variations of up to 10 percentage points. The attendance rates for male and female Catholic school students during the 2012 collection period were fairly even within year levels, within most jurisdictions, with slightly higher male attendance rates for Years 2, 9 and 10. Variations, where they occurred, were generally no more than three percentage points. The exceptions were for the Northern Territory where the Year 3 female attendance rate was five percentage points higher than the male attendance rate, and the Australian Capital Territory where the Year 10 male attendance rate was five percentage points higher than the female attendance rate.

Independent school sector

For the 2012 collection period, student attendance rates were consistently 93–95 per cent for primary school years (1–7/8) except for the Northern Territory where rates were marginally lower. Rates for Years 7/8–10 were 92–94 per cent except for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory where they dropped below 90 per cent.

Between 2008 and 2012, 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 exceptions were the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory where some larger variations occurred.

The attendance rates for male and female independent school students during the 2012 collection period were fairly even within year levels for most jurisdictions, with variations up to two percentage points. The exception was for the Australian Capital Territory, where there were higher male attendance rates for all year levels except for Year 2.