The percentage of primary school children in England who do not speak English as their first language has risen by a third to 12% over the last 10 years. This has led to concern from some that it could be having a negative impact on native English speakers’ achievement because teachers’ time would be taken up helping pupils whose second language is English. However, according to a study from the Centre for the Economics of Education, this concern is unnecessary.
The research used data from the National Pupil Database to explore the correlation between the proportion of non-native English speakers in a year group and educational attainment of native English speakers at the end of primary school. A second approach looked specifically at evidence from Catholic schools attended by the children of Polish immigrants. The results of both approaches suggest that there were no negative effects of pupils whose second language is English on the educational attainment of native English speakers.
Source: Non-native speakers of English in the classroom: What are the effects on pupil performance? (2012), Centre for the Economics of Education
Using findings from an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) study on the impact of socio-economic background on pupil performance this report from the Department for Education summarises how the social attainment gap in England compares with other countries.
It looks at:
- How the OECD measure pupils’ socio-economic backgrounds in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment);
- The distribution of pupil attainment in England and how this compares with countries internationally;
The association between pupils’ socio-economic backgrounds and attainment in England and how this compares with countries internationally;
- How social gaps reported in PISA compare to the gap reported between pupils known to be eligible for free school meals and their peers in England; and
- How average attainment reported by PISA is affected when we control for pupil background.
One of the findings of the report is that England is not the only country in which socio-economic status has a high impact on attainment. This is also true for some high-performing PISA participants, in particular, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and Belgium.
Source: PISA 2009: how does the social attainment gap in England compare with countries internationally? (2012), Department for Education
In this article from Better: Evidence-based Education magazine, David Andrews, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Education, describes a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis that educators can use when deciding whether to implement an evidence-based approach.
He says, “Adopting and implementing an evidence-based approach requires faith in the presented evidence, followed by a commitment to the appropriate implementation fidelity. Understanding the depth of the commitment required will determine whether or not the approach ‘works’ in specific settings for specific educators and their students. Consequently, educators must evaluate the feasibility of the fidelity that is required to get the desired outcome”.
The next issue of Better: Evidence-based Education magazine, published in June, focuses on “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds”. Articles include:
- Sport and educational achievement;
- Mindful yoga for urban youth; and
- How does sleep affect academic performance?
Source: In search of feasible fidelity (2012), Better: Evidence-based Education
In the last issue of Best Evidence in Brief, we highlighted findings from a review of research into the effects of technology use on mathematics achievement completed by the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE). Related to this topic is an updated CRRE review that focuses on the effects of technology use on reading achievement.
Consistent with the technology and maths review, findings on reading technology suggest that educational technology applications produce a positive, though small, effect on achievement in comparison to traditional methods. Showing the most promise were innovative technology applications and integrated literacy interventions with the support of extensive professional development.
Source: The effectiveness of education technology for enhancing maths achievement (2011), Best Evidence Encyclopedia
Changing three attitudes (aspirations, locus of control, and valuing school) does not affect educational attainment. That is one of the findings of a review by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which examined whether educational attainment can be raised by focusing interventions on changing the attitudes of parents and children.
The study evaluated evidence from more than 60 research papers, of which almost 30 were evaluations of specific interventions. These interventions covered the following areas: parent involvement, extra-curricular activities, mentoring, volunteering, peer education, and interventions with a primary focus on changing attitudes.
The review looked for evidence of a chain of impact from changing a particular set of attitudes to a rise in attainment. These attitudes were the aspirations to do well at school and to aim for advanced education, the sense that one’s own actions can change one’s life, and the giving of value to schooling and school results, referred to as aspirations, locus of control, and valuing school. The evidence from this evaluation supports a shift in emphasis from “raising aspirations” to “keeping aspirations on track”.
Source: Can changing aspirations and attitudes impact on educational attainment? (2012), Joseph Rowntree Foundation
This research article from the Journal of Research in Science Teaching investigates the effectiveness of an integrated science and literacy approach at primary school level. Teachers in 94 fourth-grade (Year 5) classrooms in one US Southern state participated.
Half of the teachers in the study taught an integrated science and literacy unit on light and energy, which was designed using a curriculum model that engages pupils in reading text, writing notes and reports, conducting first-hand investigations, and frequently discussing key concepts and processes to acquire inquiry skills and knowledge about science concepts. The other half of the teachers taught a content-comparable science-only unit on light and energy and provided their regular literacy instruction.
Results of the study showed that pupils in the integrated science and literacy group made significantly greater improvement in science understanding, science vocabulary, and science writing. Pupils in both groups made comparable improvements in science reading.
Source: The impact of an integrated approach to science and literacy in elementary school classrooms (2012), Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49(5)