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Russian scientists show children's success at school can be predicted

The possibility of forecasting effective study process in the school remains one of the most important questions for parents and teachers

MOSCOW, May 13. /TASS/. Researchers from the Center of Monitoring of Education Quality at National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) have found out that the achievements of first-graders in mathematics and language arts at the end of first school year are predetermined mainly by the level of preschool experience, as well as by social and economical status of parents.

The possibility of forecasting effective study process in the school remains one of the most important questions for parents and teachers. In the recent years, the experts' mind has fluctuated: the primary importance of the family, its financial and cultural level have been emphasized, or, on the other side, the role of school has been regarded as dominating one. The study of HSE scientists rather votes for the first viewpoint. "Within the limits of available data, we could conclude that the particular type of primary school has almost no impact on the progress of children in mathematics at the end of the first school year," said HSE junior research assistant Alina Ivanova.

By means of the iPIPS (international Performance Indicators in Primary School) methodology developed at the Durham University in the UK, the researchers from HSE have studied 1297 first graders from 38 schools of Republic of Tatarstan. First, children have been tested in autumn 2014 right after entering the school. The second test has been done in spring 2015 at the end of the school year. The researchers have examined the language skills (writing, reading, and word-stock) and mathematical experiences (simple arithmetic and problem-solving). The yearly variations of these parameters have been considered as marks of school achievements.

Additionally, the scientists have evaluated social and emotional evolution of every child and gathered his/her family profile (namely, education, occupational status, financial situation of parents, educative style in family) and teachers' data. As a result, it has been proved that the school status indeed has an impact on the pupils' achievements. In the schools of higher status, children have demonstrated greater results. At the same time, such schools are mainly populated by more pre-qualified children. But if the absolute year progress is compared, the pupils from advanced schools show almost the same rate as children from ordinary schools.

Consequently, the researchers have revealed that the utmost impact on the grade of a child in the first-year mathematics have the pre-school training level and social-economic status of the family. To quantify this status, several criteria have been considered. Exemplarily, pupils from gymnasiums and lyceums (grammar and vocational schools) have on an average more educated mothers. Some 71% of them have higher education, whereas 22% have intermediate vocational education. In contrast, only the half of mothers of schoolchildren from ordinary schools have higher education, and one-third of them have vocational education.

One more important criterium for evaluating the degree of pre-school training is the amount of book in the home library. The researchers have turned out that in the ordinary schools the pupils with home book collections up to 100 are dominating, whereas in advanced schools there are many children who have clearly more reach libraries at home. Naturally, the level of cognitive skills of newly-entered children and the peculiarities of family education are highly inhomogeneous. However, the statistic points towards the fact that the education of mother, occupation state of father, the number of books in the home library, the average monthly income of family should be taken into account together with the preschool educational level to forecast the efficiency of study at the beginning of learning process.

All these results have been obtained within a framework of ongoing project "Study of child's readiness to the school and of individual progress in the course of the first school year" in the Center of Monitoring of Education Quality at HSE directed by Elena Kardanova. The results have been presented at the XVII April international scientific conference on the Problems of Economical and Social Development.