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Access, achievement and the spatial distribution of curriculum in NSW Senior Secondary Schooling

Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Philip Roberts.

Co-Investigators: Associate Professor Laura Perry (Murdoch), Dr Joanna Sikora (ANU), Professor Robert Tanton (UC, NATSEM), Associate Professor Yogi Vidyattama (UC, NATSEM) and Mr Garrett Lommatsch (UC, SERC).

We appreciate the support of the NSW Education Standards Authority in providing the data and providing feedback and insights throughout the course of this project.

Project Timeline: March 2018 – December 2019.

Overview: This project will examine potential inequalities in access to the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) Curriculum and HSC achievement.  The project aims to undertake a comprehensivestudy of curriculum access and achievement in the NSW HSC, with reference to the socio-cultural characteristics of students and schools.  It does so in order to understand the influences upon access to, and achievement in, the NSW HSC at an individual and institutional (school) level. Individual characteristics will include students’ prior achievement, family background, socioeconomic status (SES), residence area, gender, migration status, whether students identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI) and location. At the school level we will look at types of schools, subject availability, ability streaming, community characteristics and distances and location.

Access and achievement diagram

By understanding access and achievement on a state-wide scale we can better understand why some students choose certain subjects, the opportunities they afford and the influences on subject choices and subsequent achievement.  By looking at an individual level we can gain insight into issues of social-economic influences on student subject selection decisions, while examination at a school level allows insight into issues of school competition and the decisions of school leadership in relation to subject offerings.

The project expands on work reported in ‘Place, Rural Education and Social Justice: A Study of Rural Teaching and Curriculum Politics’ (Roberts, 2016) and forthcoming publications.

Research Approach: This is a large-scale data analysis project.  The project uses school and individual level data