Supporting Aboriginal students to attain the HSC

This report was originally published 03 September 2021.

Image: Supporting Aboriginal students to attain the HSC

Background

This research uses NSW Tell Them From Me (TTFM) data in two sets of longitudinal models to identify drivers of HSC attainment for Aboriginal students and contributes to the evidence base to support a key Premier’s Priority for the NSW Government1.

Aboriginal students, on average, are less likely to complete the HSC. Since 2013, the proportion of Aboriginal students in NSW who attained the HSC each year has been over 20 percentage points lower than non-Aboriginal students, highlighting the need to improve this outcome for Aboriginal students.

Key findings: Tell Them From Me drivers

The significant drivers of HSC attainment for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students can be categorised into three groups:

  1. aspirations to finish school or to go to university
  2. student engagement, specifically, positive attendance, positive attitude towards homework and positive behaviour
  3. advocacy, specifically, interest from teachers in the student’s school assignments and family encouragement to do well.

Students’ aspirations to both finish school and go to university are strong drivers of students’ likelihood of going on to attain the HSC. The aspirations of primary school Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to go to university are influenced by student engagement measures (positive relationships, interest and motivation, positive homework behaviour and effort) and teachers’ interest in students’ school assignments.

The aspirations of lower secondary school Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to go to university are influenced by a slightly different set of student engagement measures (interest and motivation, positive behaviour and effort) as well as teachers’ expectations for students’ success and family discussion with the student of the importance of school.

Aspirations of lower secondary school Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to finish school are influenced by student engagement measures (positive behaviour and effort), teachers’ expectations for students’ success, and Aboriginal students feeling good about their culture when at school.

Overview of strategies for improving the likelihood of students to attain the HSC

  • Have high expectations for students’ success, enhance students’ interest and motivation in their work.
  • Encourage students and expect them to try hard, to participate in class and to ask for help.
  • Promote and expect positive behaviour.
  • Establish a quality learning environment that supports Aboriginal students to thrive at school.
  • Improve school attendance.
  • Encourage a positive attitude towards homework behaviour.
  • Show interest in the students’ work assignment/classwork.
  • Engage with parent/carer community to help build advocacy at home

1 One of the NSW Premier’s priorities is to increase the proportion of Aboriginal students attaining their HSC by 50% by 2023, while maintaining their cultural identity. www.nsw.gov.au/premiers-priorities/increasing-number-of-aboriginal-young-people-reaching-their-learning-potential

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