Support schools in evidence-based best practice

If student outcomes are to improve, Australia needs to support schools in evidence-informed practice. Social Ventures Australia’s Matt Deeble ‎writes that as schools gain increasing autonomy, such a culture needs to centre around school leaders themselves.

The latest NAPLAN results confirmed what we have known for some time — Australia’s educational performance is slipping. While there are examples of outstanding schools across the country who are bucking this trend, the results overall reveal little national improvement in outcomes for secondary school students since 2008.

Especially concerning is the fact that the trend of falling outcomes has occurred during a period of more than 40% increase in total school funding, and by more than 25% on a per student basis between 2000 and 2013. It has also occurred during a period of increasing school autonomy; demonstrating that these factors alone do not improve student outcomes.

Ensuring that increased funding and autonomy do deliver improved student outcomes requires a greater focus on what the evidence says about the efficacy and efficiency of particular educational interventions.

The case for evidence informed practice in education is gaining traction across the world. Australia has a long involvement in this conversation, with the 2005 National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy asserting that “teaching, learning, curriculum and assessment need to be more firmly linked to findings from evidence-based research indicating effective practices, including those that are demonstrably effective for the particular learning needs of individual children.”

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