The Australian Educational Researcher

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 73–92 | Cite as

The tribulations of reusing and repackaging data: A review of “how has school productivity changed in australia?”

  • David Zyngier


In their paper,How has school productivity changed in Australia? social economists Andrew Leigh and Chris Ryan (2008)1 attempt to show that Australian (government) schools and their teachers’ productivity has declined by some 73 per cent between 1964 and 2003 compared to an overall increase of 64 per cent across the Australian economy. In response I contend that Leigh and Ryan use an inappropriate statistical device to "decompose" student demographics to arrive at conclusions that contradict the original positive assessment of student standards by independent authorities (Rothman, 2007). Their work, which for many years seemed to be the foundation stone for Howard government education policy has by their own admission (A. Leigh & C. Ryan, personal communication, February 14, 2008), never been put to the test of peer review prior to publication. This paper critically analyses and contests their research by placing their claims within a social policy context that has subtly changed from one where teachers can make a difference to teachers are the difference.


Australian Bureau Language Background Popul Ation Oaxaca Decomposition Home Background 
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Copyright information

© Australian Association for Research in Education 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Zyngier
    • 1
  1. 1.Monash UniversityAustralia

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