A National Centre of Vocational Education Research report found school
characteristics had a significant impact on scores.
Managing director Tom Karmel said schools which were "different", such
as single-sex schools or those that grouped kids based on academic
ability, did better.
"The findings confirm while individual student characteristics and background are the main drivers for university enrolment and entrance rankings, schools really do matter," Dr Karmel said. The research also showed the proportion of highly qualified teachers had little impact on student scores and small schools had a negative effect. "Typically bigger schools have more resources and flexibility.
The independent and Catholic schools do better than government schools on average," Dr Karmel said. "It is interesting most of the influential school characteristics identified in the study are linked to the culture of the school.
"The rest are factors we can't measure, but are really important such as educational leadership. Parents will have to use their own judgment to find out about the school."
Another finding revealed socio-economic status of a school community had little effect on scores, but did have a negative impact on a student's likelihood to enrol in university.
Dr Karmel took up the position of Managing Director, National Centre for Vocational Education Research in August 2002. Prior to this position he held senior appointments in the Federal government areas of education, employment, labour market research and the Bureau of Statistics.
His research interests have centred on the labour market and the economics of education, focussing on empirical modelling, and he has a particular interest in performance indicators both in higher education and vocational education and training.Tom has an honours degree in mathematical statistics (Flinders), and a Masters of Economics and doctorate from the Australian National University (The impact of increasing education levels on the Australian workforce).