The persistent achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students underscores the importance of needs-based funding in education, according to ACER researchers.

In an ACER Occasional Essay titled, ‘Unfinished business: PISA shows Indigenous youth are being left behind’, ACER Principal Research Fellow Mr Tony Dreise and ACER Director of Educational Monitoring and Research Dr Sue Thomson explore the implications for policy and practice of the persistent achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

‘A renewed and highly targeted approach is required to correct the downward trend,’ Dreise and Thomson write.

As Dreise and Thomson note, while figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Census of Population and Housing show that school attendance and completion rates for Indigenous Australians increased between 2006 and 2011, results from the 2012 Programme for International Student Achievement (PISA) reveal that Australia’s Indigenous 15-year-olds remain around two-and-a-half years behind their non-Indigenous peers.

‘Unless educational outcomes for Indigenous young people vastly improve, then the downstream impact and cost in terms of social wellbeing, welfare, health, employment and economic sufficiency will be heavy,’ Dreise and Thomson write.