The long-term impact of effective teaching

Peter Tymms and colleagues at Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring conducted a study of 40,000 children in England to examine what impact effective teaching in the first year of school has on achievement at the end of compulsory teaching at age 16.

Children’s early reading and maths development were measured at the start of school, at age four, using the Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS) assessments. They were assessed again at the end of their first school year and at ages 7, 11 and 16. By assessing children at the beginning and end of their first year, the researchers were able to identify effective classes – defined defined as a class where children made much larger than average gains from ages 4 to 5, controlling for pretests and deprivation.

The study, published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, found  that children who were taught well in their first year of school went on to achieve better GCSE results in English and maths at age 16 (effect size = +0.2). Long-term benefits in achievement were also reported for those children who were in effective classes in Key Stages 1 and 2, however, these were not as large as those seen in the first year of school.

The study concludes that the first year of school presents an important opportunity to have a positive impact on children’s long-term academic outcomes.

Source: The long-term impact of effective teaching (December 2017), School Effectiveness and School Improvement DOI: 10.1080/09243453.2017.1404478

What difference does it make?

We regularly quote effect sizes in Best Evidence in Brief as a measure of the impact of an intervention or approach. But what is the impact of a normal school year on children, and how much of that impact is due to the school? A study by Hans Lutyen and colleagues, published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement, attempts to find out.

The study analysed 3,500 pupils from 20 mostly independent (private) English primary schools on four different learning outcomes. These measures, part of the Interactive Computer Adaptive System (InCAS), were reading, general maths, mental arithmetic and developed ability, the last of which measures items such as vocabulary and non-verbal pattern recognition.

Children were measured on these outcomes from Years 1 to 6. Using a regression-discontinuity approach that exploited the discontinuity between the youngest pupils in one year and the oldest pupils in the year below, the researchers were able to identify the overall progress of the children, and the extent to which this was a result of the impact of the school.

The results showed a declining impact of a school year as children got older. The effect size of Year 1 ranged from +1.18 for mental arithmetic to +0.8 for general maths. By Year 6, effect sizes varied from +0.88 for general maths to +0.49 for reading and developed ability.

The effect of schooling itself accounted for an average of between 23.5% and 43.4% of this impact across the four measures. Put another way, the effect size of schooling in Year 1 ranged from +0.55 for reading to +0.31 for developed ability. By Year 6, effect sizes had fallen to between +0.27 for general maths and +0.08 for reading and developed ability.

The researchers suggest that, when setting benchmarks for educational interventions, it is not only important to consider the phase of the educational career, but also the specific measure.

Source: The contribution of schooling to learning gains of pupils in Years 1 to 6 (February 2017), School Effectiveness and School Improvement