Faculty of Education

What's Fair? What's Useful? What Can We Learn?


Benchmarking Tasmanian year 12 attainment rates using MySchool

Start Date

9th Jun 2016 1:00pm

End Date

9th Jun 2016 2:30pm


Education Video Conference Rooms:

Launceston:   NH.A221c.Video
Hobart:   SB.Hytten325.Video
Cradle Coast:   CC.D214.Video


Attempts to compare the performance of schools across jurisdictions are bedevilled by claims that comparisons between the schools or systems chosen do not compare 'apples with apples', or are in some way 'not fair' or 'misleading' due to differences between the schools that are not reasonably considered to be a responsibility of the school itself – such as the level of parental support for children's learning or indeed its location.

We discuss how we can use data from MySchoolto overcome these objections.

The aim of this analysis is to compare the rate at which students from Tasmanian high schools gain their senior secondary certificates, in comparison to students from comparable high schools in other states – and indeed with high schools 'back o' Bourke' - and consider what might explain the large differences in attainment rates we discover.

Professor Eleanor Ramsay

Adjunct Professor, UTAS, Division of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Education

Eleanor Ramsay Professor Ramsay is currently an honorary professor at the University of Tasmania in the Division of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Education), following a couple of decades at the University of South Australia, firstly as the Pro Vice Chancellor responsible for Equity, and a range of other portfolio responsibilities, and subsequently as an Adjunct Professor in the Hawke Research Institute. She has worked in education most of her career, initially as a high school teacher in this country and as a teacher of English as Second Language in others; as a feminist activist in a teachers' union; in senior public policy positions in the state education systems of South Australia and Queensland (where she was also a member of the board of the senior secondary assessment and accreditation authority); as a researcher, consultant, and policy analyst; and as the chair or member of a range of government boards and expert advisory bodies at the state and national levels. Much of this has been in South Australia with some years in Queensland and most recently in Tasmania, where she has been living and working for approaching a decade, with some excursions internationally with respect to women and leadership, particularly in China and NZ.

Much of Professor Ramsay's activities have been, and continue to be collaborative and change-focussed, often at the forefront of social, educational, industrial and policy change. This activity is typically aimed at the achievement of greater equality of educational access and outcomes, equal employment opportunities, and gender equity in our public and private lives, emphases also reflected in her research, publications and consultancies. Currently she is engaged with community-based advocacy and public policy interventions aimed at increasing educational attainments levels across the schooling sector in Tasmania. And for a decade she has been contributing to New Zealand's national university women's leadership program, about which she presented papers in late 2014 in Vienna and Beijing. Professor Ramsay has been awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government for her contribution to education and an honorary doctorate by the University of South Australia for her contribution to educational equity at the state and national levels.

Recent articles include "Putting Gender Back on the Agenda" for the 2013 series Griffith REVIEW 39 Tasmania: the Tipping Point? And in The Conversation September last year, "There are fewer males at university so should they be an equity group?"

Professor Michael Rowan

Adjunct Professor, UTAS, Division of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Education)

Michael Rowan I retired from the University of South Australia in 2008. At the time of my retirement I was the Pro Vice Chancellor of the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences. As an academic my main interests were reasoning in natural language and the philosophy of science. As a senior manager I took a particular interest in strategic planning, quality assurance and improvement and industrial relations. I was a member of the Australian Association of Philosophers and an auditor for the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA). I chaired the 2002 AUQA audit of the Australian Catholic University, was a member of the Sydney University audit panel in 2004 and chaired the audit of Victoria University in 2006. Since retirement I have returned to what has been one of the preoccupations of philosophers since Locke: defending science from ideological attack.

I am an Adjunct Professor in the Division of the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students and Education) at the University of Tasmania, and a research associate of the T J Ryan Foundation. With Prof Eleanor Ramsay I have founded Education Ambassadors, a voluntary organisation which encourages Tasmanian community leaders to promote the importance of all young people completing their year schooling to year 12.

My writing on philosophy, science and climate change can be found on my blog Persuade Me.