DVN Data Story 01 – Why Education Matters

Education and its funding is in the news a lot at the moment thanks to the budget it fills newspaper columns (Chapman et al. 2017; Harris 2017; Goss 2017; Doyle 2017) and talkback radio slots (Varishetti 2017; The Curious Case of School Funding in Australia 2017, Education, Environment and Equality 2016). Everyone has an opinion, and there are lots of vested interests from the education sector. So much so they have formed their own lobby groups such as the ‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ (n.d.), ‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ (n.d.), and Save Our Schools Australia (n.d.). These groups are created due to there being a fixed amount of money for funding education and everyone wants their share.

These discussions are essentially about funding and who is going to get what. The question I wanted to answer is ‘Why does it actually matter?’ Why do we even care about how much money schools get and more importantly, which schools get it? It matters because a good education means the poverty cycle can be broken.

“Children who come from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to have low educational attainment. This has multiple implications, including health, criminality, economic participation, literacy and numeracy. Issues of functional illiteracy are closely linked to significant social impacts.” (Riddle 2014, p.1)

The chart shows that poor kids tend to do poorly at school. Attending a school with a below average Socio-Education score (ICSEA) correlates to poor performance on the NAPLAN tests which measure literacy and numeracy skills (‘NAPLAN – FAQ’ n.d.). There is also a strong correlation between achievement and attendance with students who do not do well at school attending school less. This is shown by the colour cast with the higher attendance rates (grey) predominately above the ICSEA average.

Chart that contains dot points, one for each school. X Axis is the Average NAPLAN results for that school and the Y axis is the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage. The dots are sized, with the largest ones showing poor NAPLAN performance and coloured from Red to Green with red indicating poor attendance. The chart shows a clear correlation between low ICSEA and low NAPLAN scores.
ICSEA – NAPLAN – Correlation between poverty and performance

The Gonski funding model attempts to correct this imbalance through providing more funding to the kids that need it most because it recognises the fundamental link between a good education and lifelong accomplishment and endeavours to allow students “to achieve their very best regardless of their background or circumstances” (Gonski & Department of Education 2012, p.xxix).

You can make a difference to kids in need by making sure that you vote for fairer funding for all.



Chapman, B., Croucher, G., Clarke, K. & Watson, L. 2017, ‘Federal Budget 2017: what’s changing in education?’, The Conversation, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://theconversation.com/federal-budget-2017-whats-changing-in-education-77177>.

Doyle, J. 2017, ‘Government secures Hinch vote for school funding changes’, ABC News, Current, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/news/story-streams/federal-budget-2017/2017-05-11/government-secures-hinch-vote-for-school-funding-changes/8515464>.

Education, Environment and Equality 2016, Q&A | ABC TV, ABC, Her Majesty’s Theatre in Adelaide, 26 September, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4521340.htm>.

Gonski, D.M. & Department of Education, E., and Workplace Relations 2012, Review of funding for schooling: final report, Dept. of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Canberra.

Goss, P. 2017, ‘Gonski 2.0: Is this the school funding plan we have been looking for? Finally, yes’, The Conversation, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://theconversation.com/gonski-2-0-is-this-the-school-funding-plan-we-have-been-looking-for-finally-yes-77081>.

Harris, R. 2017, ‘Catholic schools to gain funding’, HeraldSun, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/federal-budget/federal-budget-2017-catholic-primary-schools-to-gain-funding/news-story/2c4b4e34fc501787f46d6341e468f82b>.

‘Independent Schools Council of Australia’ n.d., Independent Schools Council of Australia, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://isca.edu.au/>.

‘NAPLAN – FAQ’ n.d., NAPLAN, viewed 12 May 2017, <https://www.nap.edu.au/information/faqs/naplan–general>.

Riddle, S. 2014, ‘Why poor kids continue to do poorly in the education game’, The Conversation, viewed 12 April 2017, <http://theconversation.com/why-poor-kids-continue-to-do-poorly-in-the-education-game-23500>.

Save Our Schools Australia n.d., viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.saveourschools.com.au/>.

The Curious Case of School Funding in Australia 2017, Radio National, 13 April, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/themoney/the-curious-case-of-school-funding/8433936>.

Varishetti, B. 2017, PM on school funding increase, Drive with Belinda Varishetti, Perth, 1 May, viewed 12 May 2017, <http://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/drive/pm-on-education/8491154>.

Image Credit: U.S. Army

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I am a full-time student in my second year of the MDSI program. I previously worked using Oracle Business Intelligence connected to a Siebel database. I am a Microsoft guy through and through and in a previous life was a MCSE qualified network engineer.

9 thoughts on “DVN Data Story 01 – Why Education Matters”

  1. Similar to the quick feedback as a result of your presentation. Some possible wayt to improve the chart:

    -Un-rotate the title of the vertical axis.
    -All fonts larger…some quite tiny.
    -Did you try making the background white? I wonder if it gets clearer…maybe white wouldn’t be the colour for the middle values anymore…

    -What is the horizontal line? average? could you clearly indicate that?

    -Maybe you can add some text in the graph or change the title indicating what is the message of this graph (see comment in your third post for an example).

  2. Great topic and easy to follow since the beginning. Like Roberto says maybe changing the background color for the chart could improve the contrast between the data points. Also It will be good idea if you present specific sections form the chart to focus the reader’s attention and connect with your argument.

    1. Thanks Sarah. Yes red is bad.
      I am struggling to make this chart meaningful… Appreciate your feedback.
      The story is funny, but in the end is just sad. I hope it was because of being in a hurry…

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