In his SMH column today, Ross Gittins reports on some interesting new research which shows that while Independent Schools do better in getting students into Uni, these same students are out-performed in first year by students from Government and Catholic schools. Gittins also notes that the research found that parental levels of education were a better predictor of academic success than parental wealth.
Researchers argue that private-school students tend to have higher TERs because they enjoy a higher level of confidence in their own ability, because the school environment is more conducive to learning and because their parents have higher aspirations.
It seems, however, that the superior resources and more attentive coaching of non-government schools serve to artificially inflate students’ TERs relative to their raw abilities. The private schools’ “value-added” is short-lived.
It may be that students from non-government schools have difficulty adjusting to the greater freedom and reduced supervision of university life. It’s even been argued that some students from private schools are less enthusiastic because their courses have been selected by their parents.
On parental aspirations, I’ll never forget an interview I had with a young student with a very low OP (Queensland version of the TER) and his mum when I was co-ordinating the Criminology double major at UQ. This student came from a long line of lawyers, and had been to a GPS school. His mum was desparate to get him into Criminology as a stepping stone to Law. He actually wanted to be a mechanic. She said that she would be terribly embarrassed to have a mechanic in her family and couldn’t hold her own at tennis parties and family gatherings. Very sad, really.