Science and maths in Australian secondary schools datasheet

The Office of the Chief Scientist has published a datasheet summarising student performance and participation in science and mathematics in Australian secondary schools, and the supply of qualified teachers.

The datasheet draws on the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011, which assesses Year 4 and Year 8 students every four years, and the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012, conducted every three years to access the competencies of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.

In PISA 2012, Australia’s performance has dropped in maths since 2003, while our international ranking has declined dramatically.

In PISA 2012, there were significant differences in the mean performance of Australian students in both science and maths based on where they live, their socioeconomic status, and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, with students from high socio-economic backgrounds performing at levels 2.5 years of schooling ahead of those from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Participation in most Year 12 mathematics and science subjects is declining, and for science is the lowest in 20 years.  Just one in 10 students completes advanced mathematics. TIMSS 2011 data show that older students are losing interest in maths – with 16 per cent of students in Year 8 versus 45 per cent of students in Year 4 liking maths.

The Staff in Australia’s Schools 2013 Survey indicates that around 20 per cent of secondary maths and science teachers across all sectors (government, independent and Catholic) are teaching ‘out of field’ – i.e. they are not qualified to teach the subject. TIMSS 2011 data show that the proportion of schools that have difficulty filling Year 8 maths and science teaching positions was about double the international average.

The Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, launched the Science and maths in Australian secondary schools datasheet at CONASTA 65, the annual conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association, in Brisbane on 4 July 2016.

Read the Science and maths in Australian secondary schools datasheet.

References and notes are available here.