For the first time, data from the Census of Population and Housing has been integrated with Tasmanian government school enrolments and National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) data to enhance the evidence base about the socioeconomic context of school achievement as well as the longitudinal outcomes of young people post schooling.
To date the key source of information about the pathways and outcomes for students has been measured through longitudinal surveys. The Longitudinal Survey of Australian Youth, for example, measures transitions from schooling into employment or study one to four years post schooling using weighted survey sample data. Other data sources, such as the Survey of Education and Work and State-based school leaver surveys provide transitions information but generally for a limited period of time post-school.
The integrated Tasmanian NAPLAN, government school enrolments and Census dataset provides a new opportunity to analyse longitudinal outcomes of school leavers, and assess how those outcomes are moderated by socioeconomic factors and academic performance. The integrated data allows analysis of:
- the factors that lead to higher performance among children from potentially disadvantaged backgrounds by examining the relationships between socioeconomic and parental characteristics on student performance
- the relationship between school performance and post school outcomes (including income, unpaid work, further study, occupation and housing)
- the factors that lead to better outcomes for school leavers post schooling with fine granularity in terms of field of study, occupation and income, for example, and their outcomes five years after leaving school
- other post school outcomes of students besides engagement with work or study, such as unpaid work caring for a child or a person with disability, or volunteer work
- the pathways and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, as well as other smaller population sub groups, such as those young people with a disability or from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- the locational destinations of various student cohorts post schooling (e.g. outcomes for those who have left Tasmania).
Maximising the value of existing administrative data by integrating it with data from the Census using data linkage techniques, particularly if undertaken for all schools sectors at the national level, has the potential to substantially enhance the evidence base for social, economic and educational policy in Australia in a cost effective and efficient way without increasing the burden on the general public.