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Primary Education News
News Education research in brief: exam inflation study, reading ability and more
Our weekly round up of the latest research papers, methods and ideas related to teaching and learning
No evidence of fall in exam standards
The government's exam reforms, which were confirmed in the Queen's Speech this week, are unlikely to drive up standards say Oxford academics.
According to a new report from the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment there is also no clear evidence to support government claims that standards of examinations have fallen in England.
The report reveals that in international tests in 2011 England was in the top 10 countries for maths, for years 5 and 9, and science for year 9, out of the 63 countries measured by Trends in international mathematics and science study (Timss). It says there has been no decline in test scores since 1995. For year 5 science pupils, England is among the top 15 countries.
Looking at all the evidence, it says there is currently no clear, single explanation for the rising trend in GCSE grades, however there is little evidence to say that exam questions are getting easier. However, the report does say more evidence is needed to establish whether more pupils are being taught to pass the test than before. Equally, the report highlights the fact that pupils could be benefiting from improved teaching or working harder than pupils did in the past.
Reading well at seven is the key to job success
The ability to read well and do maths at an early age has been found by researchers to be a key factor in deciding whether people go on to get a high income job later in their lives.
Psychological scientist Timothy Bates and PhD psychology student Stuart Ritchie from Edinburgh University analysed the relationship between early maths and reading skills and their socio-economic impact beyond the classroom.
The pair looked at data from the National Child Development Study, a large, nationally representative study that followed more than 17,000 people in England Scotland and Wales over 50 years from 1958. They found that reading and maths ability at the age of seven were linked to their social class 35 years on. Children with higher reading and maths skills ended up having higher incomes, better housing and more professional roles in adulthood. The research, which is published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that going up just one reading level at the age of seven could represent a £5,000 increase in income at the age of 42.
School climate study
What makes successful schools different from other schools? Researchers in California have been looking at data from more than 1,700 public and middle schools in the state for their report and identified 40 schools that consistently performed better than predicted on maths and English tests.
These 40 schools were called Beating The Odds (BTO) schools and were found to have substantially more positive school climate where safety, academic support and social relationships were paramount. A positive school climate has been associated with higher academic achievement and healthy behavioral outcomes for students.
Researchers found that differences in school climate were twice as large between BTO schools and 20 schools that were consistently performing worse than expected.