What counts? The influence of school attendance on Australia’s urban Indigenous students’ educational achievement
Formal primary and secondary school education for all students should provide a pathway to overcome inequality and disadvantage. Logically, attending school regularly and often during the compulsory years of school provides the best prospects to achieve educational success and enhance post-school opportunities, particularly for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. However, recent research of Indigenous students living in remote regions of Australia suggests school attendance frequency has little, or no correlation with academic success or failure. Our study of a disadvantaged urban school population also showed no attendance and achievement relationship at student-level for Indigenous students (or non-Indigenous peers). The findings of this study highlight the generally accepted relationship between attendance and achievement does not apply universally for all students. Many factors have potential to influence for Indigenous students’ capacity for educational achievement. We need further research to ensure Indigenous education policy and strategies for improved student outcomes target what matters most.
KeywordsIndigenous education School attendance Educational achievement NAPLAN testing Urban Indigenous students Urban Indigenous populations Remote education Urban education Aboriginal students Australia
The generous participation and contribution of the Indigenous school community at Watney (a pseudonym) made this work possible. We thank the Elders and community leaders for their support and permission to conduct this project, without which, this research would not have been possible. Ethical constraints preclude the identification of Country on which La Trobe University is situated. We would, however, like to acknowledge and pay our respect to the Dja Dja Wurrung Community as the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which La Trobe University Bendigo is situated and where we conducted the analysis and writing for this paper. An Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (APA) and a Grant from La Trobe University’s Transforming Human Societies Research Focus Area supported this work.
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