Victoria's economic, social and environmental goals depend on
better performance in the science, technology, engineering and
mathematics disciplines. However, the Department of Education
and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) has not succeeded in
raising achievement in science and mathematics or participation in
the enabling sciences.
While Victoria does reasonably well in getting its students to
basic levels of achievement, there is an ongoing issue with the
relatively low proportion of high achieving students. The middle
years of schooling reveal a persistent and significant drop-off in
achievement. Low levels of achievement and student disengagement
during the middle years are likely to deter and even preclude
students from studying the enabling sciences at senior levels and
ultimately pursuing a science or mathematics-related career.
Science and mathematics education, and student performance, are
also uneven across the state.
Teaching quality is the single most important school-based
factor influencing student interest and achievement. However, DEECD
lacks essential data, has failed to develop a robust workforce
strategy, and has not delivered sufficient professional development
for teachers. Many schools, particularly in regional and
disadvantaged metropolitan areas, experience difficulty in
employing suitably qualified science and mathematics teachers. This
seriously compromises the future supply of science and mathematics
skills and knowledge in the community.
The quality of science and mathematics classroom infrastructure
also affects student interest and teaching strategies, and this
varies considerably within and between schools. Additionally,
DEECD's two main science infrastructure initiatives were hindered
by construction delays, poor project management and a lack of