New analysis suggests the location of a school is more important than whether it is public or private.

The new Grattan Institute national report card on NAPLAN school results reveals big differences between the states on the rate of progress students make over the course of their schooling.

Some of its key findings include;

  • Queensland primary students make two months more progress in reading than the national average between Year 3 and Year 5, and about one month more progress in numeracy over the same two years
  • NSW is good for advantaged secondary students, but is not so good at supporting disadvantaged secondary students
  • Students in disadvantaged Victorian schools make four months more progress than the national average from Year 7 to Year 9, but the state does not do as well with advantaged students
  • Tasmanian and Northern Territory schools are not under-performers. The report shows that their students progress broadly in line with students in schools of similar socio-economic advantage in other states
  • South Australia’s primary students make slightly less progress than the national average, and Western Australia’s make progress roughly on par with the national average.
  • The ACT is the worst performer on student progress, with students in the ACT making two to three months less progress than the national average in both primary school (between Year 3 and Year 5) and secondary school (between Year 7 and Year 9).

The report card also challenges the idea that students in Australia’s high-achieving schools are ‘cruising’.

In fact, students in low-achieving schools make only half the progress in numeracy from Year 7 to Year 9 as students in high-achieving schools, and 30 per cent less progress in reading.

“This finding should ring alarm bells in cabinet rooms and education departments across Australia,” Grattan said in a media release.

“If governments are serious about delivering on the Gonski vision of ‘at least one year’s growth in learning for every student every year’, then disadvantaged schools must be a big priority.”

The report finds that whether a student attends a government, Catholic or independent school has little impact on how fast they progress in NAPLAN.

“Low rates of progress in regional and rural schools are mainly explained by their high levels of disadvantaged students… and whether a student goes to a big or small school has little relationship to how well they will learn,” the experts say.

The report is available in PDF form, here.