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Determinants of success at the transition to academic track at the age of 11 in the Czech Republic

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Abstract:

Many studies show that one of the most important factors related to delivering equity in education is the design of education system, its differentiation, and the age at the time of the first selection (OECD 2007). In a system in which early self-selection is constrained by the choice structure there is less educational inequality than in a system where consequential decisions about the educational career are taken at a very young age. The younger the students are when they have to make decisions about their future in education, the more this decision is determined by their parents rather than by their own interests, abilities and aspirations. It appears that through the mere existence of choice, the selective systems raise the aspirations of parents from higher socio-economic backgrounds and lower those of parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds (Erikson and Jonsson 1996). Ireson et al (2002) found that students are in many cases wrongly placed in groups or tracks (students are not in the groups corresponding to their performance) and that division into groups is influenced by factors such as ethnic origin, race, or family background. On that account, grouping according to student ability has been one of the most controversial issues in education for more than 80 years. Its effects, particularly on student achievement, have been extensively studied over that time period, mainly in United States and Great Britain (e.g. Slavin 1987, 1990, Kulik and Kulik 1982, Gamoran 1992, Harlen, Malcolcm 1999). Most studies agree that tracking has no impact on overall achievement. It, however, contributes to inequality: students assigned to higher-ranked tracks fare better than their lower-ranked peers and their progress is faster than in heterogeneous settings. On the opposite, students in lower tracks fare worse and their progress is slower than in heterogeneous settings. Gamoran, Nystrand (1990) and Oakes (1990) showed that students experience different quality of teaching in different tracks: higher tracks had more academic subjects, more enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers, better learning climate.
Curricular differentiation by the school type at lower-secondary education is applied in five countries of Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), where students are sorted into different schools by ability at the age of 10 or 11. In the Czech Republic however tracking starts from very young age. At the age of 11, children can apply for long academic track (eight-year gymnasium). About 13 % of Czech 11-years old children leave basic school and start lower secondary education at upper secondary academic schools. Tracking during compulsory education is regarded as one of the main causes of the relatively strong relationship between student achievement and family background at both student and school levels (e.g. OECD 2001, OECD 2004). In this paper we provide an analysis of the mechanisms of transition from primary school to eight-year gymnasium. The paper explores to which extent is a student´ success in entrance examinations to high academic track influenced by his/her cognitive abilities and his/her family background. It seeks answers to the following questions: How do families decide about application to eight-year gymnasium? How children prepare for entrance examinations? What is the match between students´ success and their results in IEA TIMSS and PIRLS? Is mathematics and reading achievement a stronger predictor of students´ success than their family background?
Analysis is carried out on data from the Czech Longitudinal Study in Education (CLoSE). CLoSE follows pupils participating in 2011 IEA TIMSS and PIRLS at their transition from primary to lower secondary education, with the possibility to apply for multi-year gymnasia. 4500 pupils in grade 5 classrooms participating in grade 4 in TIMSS and PIRLS were administered questionnaires focusing on various aspects of the transition. The questionnaire was administered at the end of the school year when the students were able to report about the decision making process regarding application to eight-year gymnasia and about preparation for entrance examinations. Students were also asked to indicate whether they were successful or not and give some explanations why yes or why not. The data about transition process were than merged with the TIMSS and PIRLS database which allows to analyze the determinants of the success at the transition process.
The analysis shows that parents have crucial role not only in decision making process but also in preparation of pupils for entrance examinations. Entrance examinations contain a lot of content that is not covered on primary level and family do not rely on primary schools in the preparation process.

Author's Keywords:

tracking,longitudinal data (CLoSE),TIMSS&PIRLS 2011,inequalities
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Name: Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference
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http://www.cies.us


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MLA Citation:

Greger, David. and Strakova, Jana. "Determinants of success at the transition to academic track at the age of 11 in the Czech Republic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Mar 10, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717452_index.html>

APA Citation:

Greger, D. and Strakova, J. , 2014-03-10 "Determinants of success at the transition to academic track at the age of 11 in the Czech Republic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Annual Conference, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p717452_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Many studies show that one of the most important factors related to delivering equity in education is the design of education system, its differentiation, and the age at the time of the first selection (OECD 2007). In a system in which early self-selection is constrained by the choice structure there is less educational inequality than in a system where consequential decisions about the educational career are taken at a very young age. The younger the students are when they have to make decisions about their future in education, the more this decision is determined by their parents rather than by their own interests, abilities and aspirations. It appears that through the mere existence of choice, the selective systems raise the aspirations of parents from higher socio-economic backgrounds and lower those of parents from lower socio-economic backgrounds (Erikson and Jonsson 1996). Ireson et al (2002) found that students are in many cases wrongly placed in groups or tracks (students are not in the groups corresponding to their performance) and that division into groups is influenced by factors such as ethnic origin, race, or family background. On that account, grouping according to student ability has been one of the most controversial issues in education for more than 80 years. Its effects, particularly on student achievement, have been extensively studied over that time period, mainly in United States and Great Britain (e.g. Slavin 1987, 1990, Kulik and Kulik 1982, Gamoran 1992, Harlen, Malcolcm 1999). Most studies agree that tracking has no impact on overall achievement. It, however, contributes to inequality: students assigned to higher-ranked tracks fare better than their lower-ranked peers and their progress is faster than in heterogeneous settings. On the opposite, students in lower tracks fare worse and their progress is slower than in heterogeneous settings. Gamoran, Nystrand (1990) and Oakes (1990) showed that students experience different quality of teaching in different tracks: higher tracks had more academic subjects, more enthusiastic and knowledgeable teachers, better learning climate.
Curricular differentiation by the school type at lower-secondary education is applied in five countries of Central Europe (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary), where students are sorted into different schools by ability at the age of 10 or 11. In the Czech Republic however tracking starts from very young age. At the age of 11, children can apply for long academic track (eight-year gymnasium). About 13 % of Czech 11-years old children leave basic school and start lower secondary education at upper secondary academic schools. Tracking during compulsory education is regarded as one of the main causes of the relatively strong relationship between student achievement and family background at both student and school levels (e.g. OECD 2001, OECD 2004). In this paper we provide an analysis of the mechanisms of transition from primary school to eight-year gymnasium. The paper explores to which extent is a student´ success in entrance examinations to high academic track influenced by his/her cognitive abilities and his/her family background. It seeks answers to the following questions: How do families decide about application to eight-year gymnasium? How children prepare for entrance examinations? What is the match between students´ success and their results in IEA TIMSS and PIRLS? Is mathematics and reading achievement a stronger predictor of students´ success than their family background?
Analysis is carried out on data from the Czech Longitudinal Study in Education (CLoSE). CLoSE follows pupils participating in 2011 IEA TIMSS and PIRLS at their transition from primary to lower secondary education, with the possibility to apply for multi-year gymnasia. 4500 pupils in grade 5 classrooms participating in grade 4 in TIMSS and PIRLS were administered questionnaires focusing on various aspects of the transition. The questionnaire was administered at the end of the school year when the students were able to report about the decision making process regarding application to eight-year gymnasia and about preparation for entrance examinations. Students were also asked to indicate whether they were successful or not and give some explanations why yes or why not. The data about transition process were than merged with the TIMSS and PIRLS database which allows to analyze the determinants of the success at the transition process.
The analysis shows that parents have crucial role not only in decision making process but also in preparation of pupils for entrance examinations. Entrance examinations contain a lot of content that is not covered on primary level and family do not rely on primary schools in the preparation process.


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