Data report reveals need to better understand student learning and earning pathways

A research analysis report of SACE attainment and VET participation, of which preliminary findings were first presented to the former government in 2017, shows that little is known about the educational outcomes of more than a quarter of government school students.

Gaps in the data mean that it is unknown how many of this group had transitioned into work or eventually progressed to further study or training beyond school.

The analysis, made possible by new data sharing between the Education Department, SACE Board and Department for Industry and Skills, tracked individual student progress from Year 8 enrolment in 2012 to the end of 2016.

The analysis provides a much more detailed picture than previously reported SACE completion rates, 94.8% in government schools in 2016, which measures the percentage of students who complete their SACE in a given year against the number who nominate to do so in October of the same year.

The data also reveals that 27% of students exit the government school system without a known educational outcome.

The Government will now use the data to establish research partnerships to better understand the ways students advance into jobs, training and tertiary study, or not, so that it can work more effectively to stop young people falling through the cracks.

An expression of interest process for the Learning and Earning project will begin next month, inviting universities and other research organisations to work with the Education Department to fully understand the forces that influence students, the learning and earning choices they make, and the role that schools play in student choices.

Education Minister John Gardner said it was critical that South Australia has a clearer picture of our students’ educational pathways.

“The data suggests that more than a quarter of students are leaving school without a known learning and earning pathway,” said Minister Gardner.

“Clearly we need to gain a better understanding of why some students are slipping through the cracks.

“The SACE attainment rates identified in this research present a set of challenges not readily acknowledged by the former government.

“The Liberal Government believes that it is critically important to address these issues.

“This research will help us understand the barriers and incentives that are influencing students in making their life choices, and what schools can be doing to facilitate young people into meaningful study or employment.

“We are committed to delivering educational outcomes that lead to further study, vocational pathways and real jobs.”

The report is available at