Financial Review Letter to the Editor


 Dear Sir

Tim Dodd’s article on the latest PISA results (7 December 2016, “Schools fail again, OECD finds”) claims that “Catholic schools were the worst performing school sector” in Australia after adjusting for socio-economic differences. This is simply untrue.

As any decent researcher knows, student tests have confidence intervals and differences between student cohorts are only meaningful when the differences are statistically significant.

The difference in student performance between the Catholic and government sectors after adjusting for socio-economic factors in the PISA results was not statistically significant. Your report should not suggest otherwise.

The PISA data clearly shows that Catholic schools in Australia deliver results above OECD averages.

In science, Australian Catholic school students outperform benchmark countries such as Korea, New Zealand and Great Britain, with a similar rank to Hong Kong.

Australian Catholic school students rank alongside Korea and perform better in reading than New Zealand, Norway and Japan and again score higher than Norway and New Zealand in mathematics, with similar results to Germany.

Instead of the outcomes you portray, the PISA results show a very different picture: students in Australian Catholic schools are achieving results comparable with some of the world’s most highly regarded education systems.

Stephen Elder
Executive Director
Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd