The Productivity Commission’s annualReport on Government Services, released yesterday, shows that Victorian school students are being let down by the Andrews Labor Government.
Students are falling behind in the foundational skills of Maths and Science, and our senior students are less likely to stay engaged in work and study.
Worryingly, much of this data precedes Victoria’s protracted and state-wide school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) shows the percentage of students performing above the expected level in mathematics has dropped. In fact, students fell below the national average for the first time this century: in 2007, 78.9 per cent of Year 4 students met or were above the international benchmark, whereas in 2019 only 72 per cent of students met the benchmark.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data for mathematics paints a similar picture. Victorian 15 year olds were performing worse than ever in the last round of testing in 2018 – well before they suffered extended school closures.
Senior students, too, have worse prospects. The number of school leavers aged between 15-24 who then went on to participate in further education, training and/or employment, has drastically dropped from 85 per cent in 2019, to only 64.3 per cent in 2020. Retention rates for Year 11 and Year 12 students also suffered in 2019 – before the pandemic even begun.
As stated by Shadow Minister for Education, David Hodgett:
“Given the importance of maths and science, it is concerning to see Victorian students going further backwards.
“The Andrews Labor Government must guarantee that every student who has suffered as a result of Labor’s second COVID wave gets the tutoring support they need to catch up.
“We must also reduce the administrative burden upon our Principals and teachers, so they can do what they entered the profession to do – teach.”
As stated by Shadow Assistant Minister for Education, Matthew Bach:
“Our students and our teachers are being failed by the Andrews Labor Government.
“We must also ensure we recruit, and retain, enough maths and science graduates to our schools – something this government has not done over many years.”