Improvements and alternatives to the disadvantaged Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE) measure

This report was originally published 11 September 2014.

Image: Improvements and alternatives to the disadvantaged Language Background Other Than English (LBOTE) measure


The report of the Gonski review of funding for schooling recommended a new schooling resource standard that includes “a series of loadings for student- and school-based sources of disadvantage” (p 153). Limited English Language Proficiency (ELP) is one such source of disadvantage. The Gonski report noted that while state systems are able to measure ELP through their own data systems, there is no nationally consistent measure of ELP currently available.

In its modelling of a new schooling resource standard, the Gonski review instead used the only measure which was available nationally, the ‘disadvantaged LBOTE (Language Background Other Than English)’ measure, as a proxy measure of educational disadvantage within the broader LBOTE population. The disadvantaged LBOTE measure was developed by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). It combines LBOTE with parental education equivalent to Year 9 or below.

However, it is generally acknowledged1 that the disadvantaged LBOTE measure is a poor approximation for limited English language proficiency.

In September 2012, the Australian Government agreed to fund two projects (endorsed by the Strategic Policy Working Group (SPWG) in July 2012) to:

  1. Investigate any improvements that could be made to the ‘disadvantaged LBOTE’ measure; and,
  2. Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of a trial of a more accurate, nationally consistent ELP measure.

This report presents the findings of the first project, which was completed by the NSW Department of Education and Communities (NSW DEC).

1 Acknowledged in the Gonski Report (p. 118); demonstrated in NSW DEC analysis provided to the SPWG meeting May 24 2012, and acknowledged by SPWG at the July 26 2012 meeting.


  • EALD
  • Research report

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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