Associate professor Chris Baumann and his colleague Hana Krskova, researchers at Sydney's Macquarie University, recently examined the results of the Program for International Student Assessment.
PISA testing is conducted every three years by the OECD.
15-year-olds are tested on reading, writing and mathematical skills.
The researchers concluded better behaved students learned more, performed among the world's best, and ultimately contributed to a more competitive workforce.
Baumann argues that more money alone is insufficient to boost educational performance.
"The way we actually run the school seems to have a massive effect on how the students perform".
The Australian Council for Educational Research has released two new reports.
ACER also found that Australian classrooms continue to be beset by appalling discipline standards, well below the international average for developed nations.
About one-third of students in affluent schools, and about half of those in disadvantaged schools, say they experience noise and disorder in most or all of their classes.
Students don't listen to what the teacher says.
They find it a difficult environment in which to learn anything.
ACER director of educational monitoring and research, Sue Thomson, says the lagging performance of disadvantaged students in poorer schools is also a reflection of "a whole bunch of student behaviours hindering learning like truancy, skipping classes, a lack of respect for teachers, bullying - all of those sorts of things are much more prevalent at schools that cater to disadvantaged students".
The Grattan Institute also recently highlighted the hidden epidemic of disengaged students.
Editor's comment : You have to wonder who it was hidden from, certainly not the teachers.
Who claims to have not known about this situation? The department? The teachers unions?
As many as four in 10 children and teenagers were unproductive - and as a result their performance slipped.
Teachers are stressed by the difficulty of interesting switched-off students.
Each year for the past six years Philip Riley from the Australian Catholic University's Institute for Positive Psychology and Education has conducted the Australian principal occupational health, safety and wellbeing survey.
What about the wellbeing of classroom teachers?
Why is there so little interest in the health, safety and wellbeing of Australian classroom teachers?
You have to conclude it is because the results would not be pretty and the department does not want the public to know about the suffering of classroom teachers.
During 2016 almost one in two Australian school principals and deputies received threats at work.
34 per cent experienced actual physical violence.
(Six years ago 27 per cent of principals and deputies experienced actual physical violence.)
Angry parents are the main perpetrators in primary schools.
Students are more likely to be responsible for the assaults in high school.
Riley says that change is moving far more slowly than it should be.
"The problem we've had is that it's very entrenched; the departments of education are now aware but they don't know where to start, and a three-year political cycle makes it very difficult.
"We're losing, I think, our best young teachers early, and there's now this exodus of people who are pretty much at the top of their game who are retiring early".
Education Minister Simon Birmingham today called for a "zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour" in Australian schools.
I remember when the Queensland Education Department had a "zero tolerance" approach to workplace bullying in Queensland schools - while 97 per cent of Queensland teachers were experiencing workplace bullying.
That's how "zero tolerance" works.
Birmingham says the latest update on Australia's performance in PISA shows 46 per cent of students in low socioeconomic schools were badly behaved, compared with 32 per cent of students in high socioeconomic schools.
"While governments are investing ever more in addressing disadvantage, we need communities and families to focus on how we simultaneously change behaviour and attitudes. Turning these results around cannot rest solely on the shoulders of teachers or principals," he says.
Rules of engagement for teachers, Stefanie Balogh, The Australian, 15 March 2017