The perils of persisting with the educational status quo

Over the past decade, Australia’s education system has gradually lost its high performance reputation. While the country’s mean scores were well above the OECD average in the latest round of PISA testing, Australia was outperformed by six countries in reading and scientific literacy, and 12 countries in mathematical literacy. The majority of countries that outperformed Australia are located in East Asia.

Improving Productivity Through Education surveys the available literature and details what the implications of this declining educational performance are for Australia. It focuses in particular on the opportunity costs of persisting with the status quo. These include:

  • Reducing the opportunity for all students to realise the benefits associated with quality schooling and educational attainment.
  • Forsaking the cumulation of these individual benefits – such as reduced cost pressures on government, productivity improvements, and greater scope to address pressing challenges (eg the ageing population, climate change and the resources boom).