Developing Measures of Population Mobility Amongst Indigenous Primary School Students

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    In the present era of evidence-based policy making in Indigenous affairs, where the monitoring and closure
    of socioeconomic gaps dominates the federal agenda, data have become paramount. Yet with regard to
    one of the cornerstones of the Labor government’s ‘Closing the Gaps’ initiative—Indigenous education—
    the reliability of the evidence base has been repeatedly called into question. Further, existing educational
    administrative data, as they are conventionally reported, fail to elucidate some of the key structural drivers
    of Indigenous educational disadvantage. For example, reported enrolment and attendance data often
    present an incomplete picture of Indigenous engagement with the formal education sector because they are
    not collected or reported in ways that adequately illuminate the realities of Indigenous temporary mobility
    practices. Drawing upon textual analysis and interviews with relevant public servants, this paper summarises
    administrative data management systems in five State and Territory public education departments, as the
    basis for evaluating the relationship between existing data and the realities of student mobility. It argues
    that both enrolment and attendance collections have the potential to render these movements more visible
    to, and instructive for, educators and policy makers responsible for designing, implementing and evaluating
    the delivery of formal education programs to highly mobile Indigenous students. To this end, it canvasses a
    range of potential reforms. The paper concludes by calling for significant reconceptualising and adaptation
    from both practitioners and policy makers in order to leverage enrolment and attendance data as more
    meaningful evidence when evaluating Indigenous engagement with formal education systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherCentre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research
    Commissioning bodyMinisterial Council for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs
    ISBN (Print)0731549724
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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