Home' Independence : Independence Vol 40 No 1 May 2015 Contents 12 INDEPENDENCE VOL 40 NO 1 MAY 2015
Marks GN (2014b) Education, social background
and cognitive ability: The decline of the social.
Abingdon, UK; New York, USA: Routledge.
Marks GN (2014c) The size, stability, and
consistency of school effects: Evidence
from Victoria. School Effectiveness
and School Improvement, 1-18; doi:
Marks GN (2015) Are school-SES effects statistical
artefacts? Evidence from longitudinal population
data. Oxford Review of Education, 41(1), 122-144;
Marks GN (forthcoming) School sector differences
in student achievement in Australian primary
and secondary schools: A longitudinal analysis.
Journal of School Choice.
Marks GN, McMillan J & Hillman KJ (2001)
Tertiary entrance performance: The role of student
background and school factors (Longitudinal
Surveys of Australian Youth Research Reports, No
22). Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council for
Educational Research (ACER).
Marks GN, Underwood C, Rothman S &
Brown J (2011) Career moves: Expectations and
destinations of New South Wales senior secondary
students. NSW Board of Vocational Education and
Training, Sydney, Australia.
Miller PW & Voon D (2011) Lessons from My
School. Australian Economic Review, 44(4): 366-
Nghiem S, Nguyen H, Khanam R & Connelly
L (2013) Does school type affect academic
achievement in young children? Evidence from
Australia. Paper presented at the Growing Up in
Australia and Footprints in Time LSAC and LSIC
Research Conference 2013, Melbourne, Australia.
OECD (2007) Science competencies for tomorrow’s
world. Volume 1. Paris, France: OECD.
OECD (2010) PISA 2009 results: Overcoming social
background – equity in learning opportunities and
outcomes (Vol 2). Paris, France: OECD.
OECD (2013) PISA 2012 results: Excellence through
equity – giving every student the chance to succeed
(Vol 2). Paris, France: OECD.
Ryan C. (2014) Private school ‘effects’ on student
achievement in Australian schools. Melbourne
Institute of Applied Economic and Social
Research, University of Melbourne.
Thomson S, De Bortoli L & Buckley S (2013) PISA
2012: How Australia measures up. Melbourne,
Thomson S, De Bortoli L, Nicholas M, Hillman
K & Buckley S (2010) Challenges for Australian
education: Results from PISA 2009. Melbourne,
Walberg HJ (1984) Improving the productivity
of America’s schools. Educational Leadership,
Dr Gary Marks, a researcher at the University of
Melbourne, has published extensively on student
and school influences on student performance.
His research interests cover social stratification
and social inequality, including educational
outcomes in western countries. His recent
research has questioned whether socioeconomic
status is a statistically valid predictor of academic
achievement. His book, Education, social
background and cognitive ability: The decline
of the social, was published by Routledge in
2013. Most recently, Dr Marks has completed a
major analysis of the academic achievement of
students in Victoria for the Victorian Department
of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Adams R (2012) NAPLAN reporting: Measures
and models for reporting gain over time. Sydney,
Australia: COAG Reform Council.
Cromley JG (2009) Reading achievement and
science proficiency: International comparisons
from the Programme on International Student
Assessment. Reading Psychology, 30(2):89-118.
Daraganova G, Edwards B & Sipthorp M
(2013) Using National Assessment Program—
Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data in the
Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC).
LSAC Technical Papers. Melbourne, Australia:
Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Duckworth AL, Quinn PD & Tsukayama E (2012)
What No Child Left Behind leaves behind:
The roles of IQ and self-control in predicting
standardized achievement test scores and report
card grades. Journal of Educational Psychology,
104(2):439-451; doi: 10.1037/a0026280.
Fergusson DM, Horwood LJ & Boden JM
(2008) The transmission of social inequality:
Examination of the linkages between family
socioeconomic status in childhood and
educational achievement in young adulthood.
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility,
26(3):277-295; doi: 10.1016/j.rssm.2008.05.001.
Gemici S, Lim P & Karmel T (2014) Can school
characteristics influence university entrance
scores? Australian Economic Review, 47(1):86-99 .
Gottfredson LS (2008) Of what value is
intelligence? In P Prifitera, DH Saklofeske & LG
Weiss (Eds.), WISC-IV clinical assessment and
intervention (2nd ed, pp. 545-563). Amsterdam,
Marks GN (2009) Accounting for school-sector
differences in university entrance performance.
Australian Journal of Education, 53(1):19-38 .
Marks GN (2010) School sector and
socioeconomic inequalities in university entrance
in Australia: The role of the stratified curriculum.
Educational Research and Evaluation, 16(1):23-
37; doi: 10.1080/13803611003711310.
Marks GN (2011) Issues in the conceptualisation
and measurement of socioeconomic background:
Do different measures generate different
conclusions? Social Indicators Research,
104(2):225–251; doi: 10.1007/s11205-010-9741-1.
Marks GN (2014a) Demographic and
socioeconomic inequalities in student
achievement over the school career. Australian
Journal of Education, 58(3):223-247; doi:
Over the last 40 years, little has changed
in the debates surrounding education.
It is commonly argued that inequalities
in educational outcomes – student
achievement, early school leaving, Year
12 performance and university entrance –
strongly reflect students’ socioeconomic
backgrounds. Furthermore, there is a
focus on schools, as if all students in a
single school perform equally well or
badly. In response, the policy solutions
advocated typically include school-level
measures such as increasing public
funding to low SES schools while
reducing funding to ‘elite’ or other non-
More recently, a measure of school SES
has been used for public comparisons of
school performance as determined by the
results of students in NAPLAN tests. On
the My School website, ‘similar schools’
are identified by ICSEA values. The
Index of Community Socio-Educational
Advantage (ICSEA) encompasses student
and school-level factors, including
student background (parents’ occupation,
school education and non-school
education), school geographical location,
the proportion of Indigenous students
in the school and the proportion of
students with language backgrounds
other than English, all aggregated to the
school level. As argued above, without
reference to the prior performance of
students, a school-SES measure such as
the school-level ICSEA reveals nothing
that is meaningful about the relative
performance of schools.
Given the strong evidence pointing to the
importance of student prior achievement,
the weak effects of student SES and
school differences, and the artificial
effects of school-SES, policies based
on SES and schools will not improve
student performance or promote equity.
Instead, policies should focus more
on supporting those students who are
under-performing or falling behind,
not on a small proportion of schools
with particular characteristics.
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