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Predictors of educational success in the beginning and in the end of primary school

Priority areas of development: state and public administration
Head: Kardanova, Elena, Васильева Марина
Department: Center for Psychometrics and Measurement in Education
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Research Goals

Themainpurposeofthestudy «Predictorsofeducationalsuccessinthebeginningandintheendofprimaryschool» isto examinetheroleofpersonal (individual) andenvironmental (context) factorsinpredictingeducationaloutcomesofprimaryschoolstudents.Themaingoalsofthestudyin 2016 included: 1)  looking forinterrelationsbetweenfamilysocio-economic status (SES), parents’ motivationandmaterialandnon-materialinvestmentsintochildren’seducationinthebeginningofschooling (startofthefirstgrade); 2) revealingfactorsthatpromoteskills development during the first year (by the end of the first grade); 3) revealing the interrelation between non-cognitive development of children in the beginning of schooling (personal and social development, and behavioralcharacteristics) and students’ success in primary school; 4) revealing individual and context factors that explain children’s outcomes in the end of primary school (in the 4th grade); 5) analysis and interpretation of the models that explain the level of skills learned by the end of the first grade and the level of school attainments in the end of primary school (in the 4th grade).


Thestudywasconductedusinga mixofmeasurementapproachesincludingItem Response Theory methods (for processing raw results of the assessments) as well as methods of statistical data processing in the course of secondary analysis.

The Russian version of iPIPS (internationalPerformanceIndictorsinPrimarySchool) instrument was uses to assess students’ educational achievements in first grades. SAMinstrument (StudentAchievementMonitoring) was used to assess children’s results in the end of primary school.

The processes of testmodel selection, datascaling, andaseriesofvalidationstudies were based onIRT and Rasch modeling framework. Various statistics methods such as multilevel and mediation regression analysis were implemented in order to analyze and define reliable predictors of steady progress of students in primary school.

Empirical research data-base

Empiricaldatabaseoftheresearchconsisted of thedatacollectedduringpreviousyearsoftheprojectfulfillmentincludingiPIPSdatafromKrasnoyarsk (about 1400 first-graders) andTatarstanRepublic (about 1600 first-graders) intheyears 2014 and 2015; from Moscow(about 2600 first-graders) andTatarstanRepublic(about 5000 first-graders)intheyears2015-2016; and the data from the SAM field trial obtainedfrom about 150 4th-graders. 

The data collected on the first-graders include the results of baseline and follow-up diagnostics coveringbasic cognitive skills in reading, math, phonological awareness, and the results of behavioral, personal, social and emotional development of children, as well as various context information (about their parents and teachers).

The data from the fourth-graders include children’s results regarding their level of preparedness in math, and subjective well-being at school.

Results of work

In 2016,dataofthesecondwaveoffirst-graders’assessmentwereprepared, gathered, andprocessedin order to estimate children’s progress on a large-scale sample of first-graders (more than 5000 students) using iPIPS(the first wave took place in the autumn of 2015 in Tatarstan), and also the data from the SAM field trial of the fourth-graders’ achievements (about 150 children) were processed in order to broaden the existent models and create new predicting models of students’progress during the whole primary school period.

Basedontheproject datacollectedinseveralregionsofthecountryinpreviousyearsand data obtained in 2016, complex analytical work was conducted according to the objectives of the project. 

ThestudyofrelationshipbetweenfamilySES, parent motivation and material and non-material investments into child’s education, on the one hand, and the level of child’s skills in the beginning of schooling, on the other hand, was conducted. It was estimated that income and parents’ education predict children’s literacy via three types of parent’s investments while significant variations in the strength of these relationships were detected. Theresultsobtainedinthestudy added to the existent theoretical model of family investments.

The study on factors that help develop learning skills in the end of the first year was conducted, including estimation of interrelations between non-cognitive development of children in the beginning of schooling (personal and social development, and characteristics of behavior)and child’s success in the end of the first school year.

The research of individual factors was focused on significant distinctions in cognitive and non-cognitive development of first-graders who have pronounced symptoms of ADHD and those who demonstrate none of  suchbehavioral problems. The obtained results fall in line with conclusions of foreign studies on the same topic. Children with pronounced ADHD symptoms demonstrate lower results in reading and math. They also show lower levels of social and emotional development. Nevertheless, children from the both groups demonstrate similar progress during the first school year in all the assessed parameters.

Regarding the factors of educational context related to the progress of first-graders, it was shown that less prepared children and classes make good progress, and by the end of school year level-offtoward the mean scores in reading and math. Inotherwords, duringthefirstyearthelevelingprocesstakesplace through the larger progress of less prepared children. The input of class and school level factors into the progress of less prepared children was significant.

The study dedicated to revealing the context (environmental)factors that better explain school attainments in the end of primary school (in the 4thgrade) has shown that the factor of higher status school has its effect in mathematics. Children from gymnasiums (typical higher-status schools) demonstrated higher levels of subject competencies in math, but not in the Russian language. At the same time, differences between students fromschoolsof different statuses (regular vs. higher) were partly related to the type of teaching materials and the experience of the teachers.

Finally,the research on personal characteristics predicting children’s success at school in the 4th year was focused on subjective well-being of children. It demonstrated differencesinschoolsatisfaction, numberoffriends, amount of communication with peers and frequency of hostility in communication ingroupschildren who havedifferent levels of school achievements. It was also shown that between students with different levels of school attainments there are no differences in the affective component, that is, children with different levels of educational attainments have the same frequency of negative and positive feelings towards their school.

Degreeofimplementation, recommendations on implementation and the results of implementation of the study outcomes

Theoutcomes ofthestudyoffirst-gradersbased on iPIPS baseline and follow-up assessments might be used as a part of independent system of progress monitoring on the regional level (Tatarstan Republic) and as a part of school inner system of quality monitoring and self-assessment on the school level (Moscow schools). Following the results of the assessment, teachers and principalsof participating schools receive analytical reports with the results of students’ diagnostics. Thereportsareprovidedwithdetailedsuggestions regarding further work with specific groups of children according to their cognitive and non-cognitive characteristics.