Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1334 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
To try to downplay variations in retention rates and to say that it was an aberration in a upward trend really is just sour grapes on the part of Mr Pratt. It ignores the reality that a small but nevertheless significant group of students need more assistance, and this government is committed to providing that assistance.
MS TUCKER (4.26): Mr Pratt's motion is mainly about his concerns around the political issues related to what he perceives to be claims of the Labor Party and his own understanding of ABS figures on retention rates. The issue of retention rates is important. It is a pity it has been politicised in this way. You can argue about retention rates as much as you like. I will read the section on retention rates from our report Adolescents and young adults at risk of not achieving satisfactory education and training outcomes in July 2001:
Retention rates to Years 11 and 12 provide another indication of the extent of the drop-out rate before completing Year 12. Retention rates are estimated on the basis of the school census in August. Retention rates to Year 11 in government schools are significantly above those to Year 12 in the following year indicating a proportion of students do not proceed to Year 12.
Of those who do proceed to secondary college, approximately 15 per cent or 1,000 do not proceed to Year 12. In the last three years a total of 20 per cent of enrolments in Year 11 (or 1,350 students) did not receive a Year 12 certificate the following year.
Information provided by the Minister for Education reveals that in August 1998, the apparent retention rate to Year 11 in ACT government schools was 125.6 per cent but in the following year the retention rate to Year 12 (at August) was 110 per cent. This disparity in retention rates to Years 11 and 12 in succeeding years indicates a significant attrition rate of students leaving school before the end of Year 12. Some 16 per cent of the Year 7 cohort of 1994 did not remain in college until August of their Year 12. It amounted to about 12 per cent of the Year 11 enrolments in 1998. In other years, the proportion has been as high as 15 per cent. Over the last decade it has varied between 10-15 per cent.
Another period when students drop out is between enrolment in Year 11 at the February census and the August census of the same year. However, comparison of the February and August census figures for Year 11 suggests that only a small number of students (usually less than 50 students or about 1-2 per cent of students who enrol in Year 11) do not continue beyond August of their first year in college.
There are much greater differences between the number of students enrolled in Year 11 in August and the number enrolled in Year 12 in the following year. Over the last four years the difference between Year 11 enrolments in August and Year 12 enrolments in the following February has varied from 103 in February 1998 to 263 in February 2000, and 176 in 2001. While some may have gone to non-government schools or transferred out of Canberra, the numbers leaving are of concern.
Some students who remain in college to Year 12 and until the August census still do not receive a Year 12 Certificate. There is some variation from year-to-year, but from the information published by the Board of Senior Secondary Studies and the