Socioeconomic Inequality and Student Outcomes in Australia

  • Philip ParkerEmail author
  • Jiesi Guo
  • Taren Sanders
Part of the Education Policy & Social Inequality book series (EPSI, volume 4)


This chapter provides an overview of (a) the Australian education system (including a historical overview from 1970 to today); (b) an exploration of socioeconomic inequality in IQ, academic achievement in high-stakes tests, and critical non-cognitive factors from the start of school to near the end of middle school; (c) an exploration of socioeconomic inequality in achievement in adolescent birth cohorts from the 1960s to 2000; and (d) a reflection on how education policy has influenced inequality and what may need to be done to redress it in the future. We find that inequalities present at the beginning of school tend to get larger as children age and that historical inequalities have also tended to increase over time. While Australia has had a large number of private schools since the 1970s, we argue that recent cultural changes have resulted in schools being seen as a market and that this has driven up ability stratification between schools and may account for increased inequality over time.


Student achievement Socioeconomic status Inequality Australia 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic UniversityNorth SydneyAustralia

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