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The Gonski Report rests on five faulty assumptions that will undermine its usefulness as a cornerstone of Australian education policy, a study from the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research has found.

The study, What’s wrong with the Gonski Report: funding reform and student achievement, found the Gonski Report was “significantly flawed” due to its reliance on the relationship between student achievement and resources as well as assumptions about the Schooling Resource Standard (SRS), the centralisation of school systems, international test rankings and private school financing.

Researchers from the Melbourne Institute at the University of Melbourne and Ben Gurion University, Israel, compared the 2012 Gonski report with international research on education funding and structure. 

Co-author of the research, Associate Professor Chris Ryan from the Melbourne Institute said while the Gonski Report declared that additional resources to schools would have a substantial impact on student achievement and improve their performance, additional resources provided to Australian schools in recent decades had not resulted in improved student performance.

“International academic research in economics and education suggests the effect of additional resources on standardized test scores is, at best, small,” he said.

Likewise, Associate Professor Ryan said the SRS used within the Gonski Report to determine the base funding level per student that all schools would receive was inherently flawed.

“The approach to determine the SRS did not consider the impact of student background on achievement, and as such can’t guarantee the student achievement targets will be met,” he said.

Other outcomes from the research include:

-        International evidence disputes the notion that a more centralised education systemwill function more efficiently;

-        Discussion over whether the standards and rankings favoured by the OECD are applicable to Australia; and

-        Debate on whether there can be an objective, professional basis for determining the appropriate level of public funding of private schools.

”The Gonski Report offers many valuable insights for school reform  but considering it is being used to chart Australia’s future course on education, it is imperative that fundamental weaknesses within its assertions about funding are illustrated,” said Associate Professor Ryan.

What’s wrong with the Gonski Report: funding reform and student achievement is the second release in the 2013 Melbourne Institute Policy Briefs Series. The Policy Briefs Series examines current policy issues and provides an independent platform for public debate. 

The full study is available at