What do we really know? A Systematic Review of educational programs and processes that purport to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students' success in school (No.2).

Year: 2017

Author: Roberts, Philip, Guenther, John, Vass, Greg, Maxwell, Jacinta, Lowe, Kevin

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

There would be few, if any areas of public policy and practice more heavily politicised within the Australian landscape than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. While on one hand, education has been posed as the primary vehicle for socio-economic and consequent political achievement of Australia's indigenous peoples, there is little or no evidence that the current educational programs have improved student outcomes.
The failure of school systems across Australia to make sustainable inroads into closing the deep achievement gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students is seen to be symptomatic of the depth and complexity of issues seen to affect the development and implementation of appropriate policies and schooling practices, and address the level of student and community resistance to them. It is the author's contention that the long-term resolution of these students' educational underachievement can only occur when educators and Indigenous communities have an informed understanding of how these issues affect students' capacity and willingness to engage in their schooling.
This symposium provides a preliminary report on a collaborative project investigating the efficacy of often heard assertions about 'What [will/should] work' to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of Indigenous school children. The symposium will explore a diverse range of research assessed as part of a wide-ranging Systematic Review undertaken by a consortium of educators deeply invested in seeking long-term solutions to the array of issues affecting the underachievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
A brief initial presentation will outline the underpinning Cochrane Review guidelines used to locate, synthesise and analyse recently published (2006 - 2017), peer reviewed and/or government initiated research of school programs in sites with significant Indigenous enrolments. The following presentations will highlight the key findings of each review topic. The findings will individually and collectively deepen our understanding of those areas seen to impact on the development and delivery of relevant, responsive and quality education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
These presentations focus on exploring the deep and enduring questions related to the failures of education to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students or how to construct models of educational improvement for these students.
These reviews, which are part of a wider review of Aboriginal education, are a key element in the Aboriginal Voices: Transforming Aboriginal education project that seeks to reconceptualise foundational schooling structures, policies and practices underpinning the education of Aboriginal students.