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Researchers compare Russian and British first-graders’ learning abilities

January 10, 11:09 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The assessment proved that Russian children have a more profound pre-school background, but the one-year knowledge gain is greater for British and Scottish children

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MOSCOW, January 10. /TASS/. Researchers from the Education Institute at Higher School of Economics together with their colleagues from the University of Durham have carried out the first comparative assessment of learning progress at primary schools in different countries. The initial results have been garnered from testing first-graders in Russia, Great Britain, and Scotland.

"This is the very first international study of children which enables a direct comparison of first-graders upon entering school and tracking their progress throughout the first school year in different countries," said Elena Kardanova, one of the study’s authors and the head of Center for Monitoring Education Quality at Education Institute of HSE.

To compare the first-graders’ progress, researchers from HSE and University of Durham used iPIPS, the international testing tool, which was utilized in more than 10 countries over the last 20 years for evaluating a child’s level of knowledge upon entering school and their individual progress throughout the first school year. 

The study was conducted twice - in September and in May - to compare children’s knowledge before and after the first year of the learning process. The assessment proved that Russian children have a more profound pre-school background, but the one-year knowledge gain is greater for British and Scottish children. The researchers attributed this finding to the fact that in Russia, primary schooling starts later implying that at the beginning the Russian pupils have on average more knowledge. In other words, at the beginning of school, the Russian children are on the level with English and Scottish first-graders after one year of learning. The difference in progress rate can be easily explained bearing in mind that primary school children’s knowledge absorption grows very quickly.

Russia is the first non-English speaking country where this sort of international comparison through iPIPS has been accomplished. To make it possible, Russian scientists have adapted iPIPS for usage in Russia taking into account cultural differences in the education system between it and the UK. For instance, kids start school in Russia at the age of 7 years old, whereas British and Scottish children begin their education at the ages of 4-5 years.

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