Year 12 retention on the decline

The ‘retention rate’ refers to the number of full-time Year 10 students who continue their schooling to Year 12.
year 12 retention

Year 12 retention (the number of students staying in school past year 10) is at its lowest level in a decade, according to new education data.

The Productivity Commission’s latest report found that fewer students are entering year 12, while the gap in school attendance between remote and city students is widening.

Here’s what you need to know.


The ‘retention rate’ refers to the number of full-time Year 10 students who continue their schooling to Year 12.

Decreased retention indicates fewer students completing their final years of school.

The Productivity Commission’s report includes retention rate data collected from Australian schools between 2013-2022.

It found public school retention rates dropped to the lowest levels in almost a decade in 2022 (73.5%). It follows a peak of 79.8% retention in 2017.

The 2022 retention rate was significantly higher for non-government schools compared to public schools (87.2%). This includes private and religious schools.

Despite this, retention in non-government schools dropped to its lowest level since 2013.

The report also found significantly lower attendance and school completion rates among First Nations students compared to non-Indigenous students.


Despite fewer students completing their final years of schooling, attendance levels for students in Years 1-10 improved in 2023 compared to the previous year.

However, attendance across all groups was still below pre-pandemic levels.

There was also a 23% gap in attendance between students in major cities and students in very remote areas in 2023.

Year 12 certificate

“Attainment” is the percentage of students who complete a year 12 certificate out of the total cohort (e.g. HSC, VCE or equivalent).

The attainment rate in 2022 dropped nearly 3% from the previous year. However, overall attainment rates have increased by more than 2% since 2013.

Students from a low socio-economic background were 14% less likely to complete a year 12 certificate than wealthier students.


Last week, the WA Government announced it will become the first state to fully fund its public schools, under a joint agreement with the Federal Government.

The AEU is calling for “100% of funding for 100% of schools” by 2028. This would require increased federal funding for all states and territories.

Education Minister Jason Clare said he will work with every jurisdiction to “properly fund our schools”.

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