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Improving academic results of underperforming schools


Goal of research

Substantiation of mechanisms to improve the education quality in general education organizations with low results, functioning in unfavorable social conditions, implemented at different levels of government (regional, municipal, and school).


The research methodology is based on the world pedagogical science study of the factors of school education quality, including not only academic results, but also the participants’ satisfaction in the educational process, participants’ level of well-being and the school's relationship with external partners (Agasisti & Longobardi, 2017; Schleicher, 2014).

The study is based on approaches considering contextual characteristics (territory, resources, characteristics of the contingent and families, features of educational policy) that influence educational achievements (J Coleman. 1966, Coleman, Bourdieu, Masten, Herbers, Cutuli, & Lafavor, 2008; Sirin, 2005; Yastrebov, Pinskaya, & Kosaretsky, 2014, Longobardi & Agasisti, 2014; OECD, 2016). A full assessment of the school education quality includes a maximum of significant indicators.

Academic results, school well-being (well-being) and academic resilience have been indicated as education quality indicators. As factors related to the education quality, the territory and contingent characteristics, as well as school resources (personnel and material), the school climate and the social capital of the school have been considered. Due to the specificity of the regions, the model introduces the features of educational policy related to the network of schools (assigning special status to schools) and financial policy at the level of municipalities (features of accountings system).

Questionnaires on contextual data, school well-being, individual resilience, and school social capital are tools for identifying low-performing schools operating in disadvantaged social settings.

The method of expert evaluation of educational opportunities equality using of survey tools has been developed and involves the construction of a hierarchical regression model, which allows to assess the contribution of various factors to the studied parameters of the education quality. This model also allows us to assess the relationship of indicators with the grouping of schools by municipality.

To analyze the collected data, special statistical packages for working with such data (SPSS, Stata, suitable packages in R) were used, with the help of which hierarchical regressive models were constructed.

Empirical base of research

Regional databases of academic results for each school (EGE, OGE, VPR in different subjects’ depth of 3 years) and data of the Federal statistical schools observation (reports GS-1 and GS-2).

Results of on-line survey to collect contextual information and information on teaching and management practices.

Results of research

Theory’s impact:

A new equality examination model of schools’ educational achievements, applicable at the regional level, including new factors and indicators that determine the education quality, such as school well-being and satisfaction of all participants in the educational process, the level of schools’ academic resilience, the quality and schools’ social capital strategies.

Methodology development’s impact:

Tools and methods of identification of educational organizations belonging to the risk group (with low results, functioning in unfavorable social conditions) have been developed, the factors influencing the increase of educational results of students have been highlighted.

New empirical data:

Comprehensive information has been obtained on the secondary schools’ level of educational results differentiation and activity conditions, features of their contingent, resource provision, quality of interaction with the community and other educational, cultural and social institutions. For the first time, the most complete data on the level of satisfaction and school well-being of all participants in the educational process have been collected.

Level of implementation, recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results; field of practical using

Proposals have been prepared to include in the national project "Education" measures to support the regions in improving the educational results of sink schools. The criteria for the entry of regions into the national project "Education" for the event "Improvement of educational results of sink schools" have been developed. Recommendations to the regional, municipal and school levels governing bodies to improve the educational results quality in different groups of schools have been developed.

The study has analyzed Russian and foreign scientific literature on the evaluation of equality of educational achievements of students at the inter-country, national and subnational level. Based on the results of the analysis, a comprehensive equality assessment model has been developed, based on the approaches used in international comparative studies of education quality and the OECD recommendations for assessing the education quality at the national and subnational level.

The main elements of the model is to assess the impact of the territory on the students’ educational outcomes; impact of school SES on the students’ educational outcomes; evaluation of segregation of educational institutions level; evaluation of educational mobility of schools’ students; assessment of the level of resiliently schools in the region.

The main methodological principles in the development of the model has included social context, a comprehensive analysis of the contribution of individual factors, the calculation of composite indices and data aggregation at the level of the educational organization. The application of the developed model allows us to consider the data of the assessment in the region in the international context and to make all necessary and appropriate comparisons.

During the study, tools have been developed for the examination of the equality of students’ educational achievements in the regional education system, identification of general education organizations belonging to the risk group (with low results, functioning in unfavorable social conditions).

To identify educational institutions belonging to the risk group, the tools developed for the examination of the equality of educational results of school students have been used. The procedure of identification of such schools corresponds to the procedure of identification of resistant schools (with high results, functioning in unfavorable social conditions). Schools at risk are determined based on the correlation of the school's SES and its academic achievements. This group includes schools that are the least socially advantaged (25% of schools with the lowest SES), which show the least high school-averaged exam results (at the level of 30% of the lowest results).

The method of examination of equality of educational achievements of schools, tools of examination of equality of schools’ educational achievements in the regional education system have been collected in the Kaliningrad region. The identification of educational institutions belonging to the risk group has been carried out. Approbation has shown that the developed tools allow to carry out examination of equality of the trained schools’ educational achievements in regional system of education. There have been recorded complex manifestations of educational opportunities inequality and students’ achievements related to the socio-economic characteristics of their families and in general the social context of schools.

The tools have used made it possible to assess the extent to which schools in the region are able to overcome the influence of unfavorable social context and demonstrate academic resilience, as well as to identify educational organizations belonging to the risk group.

Proposals have been developed to include in the national project "Education" measures to support the regions in terms of improving the educational results of sink schools using the developed methodology for assessing the equality of schools’ educational achievements in the region. For the decision on inclusion of regions in the national project "Education" it is recommended to carry out examination of equality of trained schools’ educational achievements in regions of the Russian Federation on the developed technique. The examination should be carried out centrally at the national level, considering the socio-economic territorial context. The reason for entering the project is the low level of equality in the education system, confirmed by a set of indicators recorded in the developed methodology. The main indicators determine the dependence of students ' educational achievements on the territorial and socio-economic context of regional schools, the level of social segregation of schools, the level of students’ resilience and social mobility of.

Criteria have been also developed for regions to participate in the program.  

During the study, methodological recommendations have been developed for municipal and regional level authorities, schools to improve the equality of students’ educational achievements. The recommendations are based on the analysis of the world experience of comprehensive national policies to support vulnerable groups of students and socially disadvantaged schools, large-scale projects to improve the quality of education in national and regional school systems and domestic experience in supporting schools operating in difficult social conditions and showing low educational results.

The purpose of the recommendations is to provide a basis for a regional policy to increase the equality level in the education system, to ensure access to quality educational opportunities for all students, regardless of their socio-economic characteristics and cultural background, as well as to organize the educational process considering their needs and requirements.