09 SES 01 A, Investigating Quality and Equity Using Large-Scale-Assessments
Large-scale international assessments of student and adult competencies, such as IEA studies, PISA, or PIAAC, have heightened interest in the comparative analysis of factors influencing the formation of skills. Comparisons of achievements in cross-sectional studies have been hindered by substantial differences in context in particular jurisdictions that can only be partially controlled for in statistical analysis (such as cultural, social, or geographical factors). Given the lack of “control”, it is hard to separate the effects of a broader context from particular and specific factors (such as concrete micro-contextual factors or adopted policy measures). The analyses of data from adult studies are further complicated by the interconnection of age, cohort, and period effects. Many studies have pointed out, for example, offsetting ageing and cohort effects (e.g. Green & Riddel 2012, Barret & Riddel 2016, Paccagnella 2017).
One way of solving this puzzle, at least to some extent, is to look for “natural experiments” where the general context is shared, but where the cases nevertheless differ in some particular aspects. In this respect, analysis of the development of competencies in the Czech and Slovak Republics provides an ideal case for comparison. These two countries split peacefully in 1993 after seven decades of being one state. They share similar cultures, values, and institutions (including the education system and structure of the labour market).
After the split, the development of both countries differed as a result of their different political orientations in different periods when a (sometimes turbulent) rivalry of political ideologies about the future of society along a line of openness (Europeanization) or closure (nationalization) also influenced the perception of the aims and form of the education system (Kosova & Porubsky 2011). Soon after the spilt the Czech Republic became an active member of the OECD (in 1995), which led to the curricular reform launched in 2000 (Greger & Walterova 2007). The Slovak Republic started the reform process later, with the Education Act approved in 2008. Despite these differences in the period immediately following the split, the retrospective view of the educational debates and education policy measures implemented since 1989 in both countries shows strong similarities.
At first sight, both countries also display very similar levels of literacy (e.g. OECD 2016a, 2016b). Deeper analysis, however, reveals that they do not share all the mechanisms through which literacy is generated. The paper will provide a comparison of the factors influencing literacy in the Czech and Slovak Republics and its distribution, will point out both similarities and dissimilarities, and will offer possible explanations for identified trends based on the developments in the education systems and societies.
The primary data source for the analysis was the data from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Our intention was to support the findings from this study by other data. Unfortunately, no data on educational outcomes or cognitive skills was collected in socialist Czechoslovakia from either the adult or the student population. The education system was standardized at the level of processes (identical curricula, textbooks, and teacher training courses) but the grading and examinations were the responsibilities of individual schools and are thus not comparable. No sample survey was carried out either during the existence of the joint state or after its split. Moreover, Slovakia, unlike the Czech Republic, did not participate in the International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) that took place in the Czech Republic in 1998. Fortunately, international comparative studies in student populations (especially TMSS and PISA) can be used for monitoring the development in younger cohorts after the split of the joint state to support the findings from PIAAC (see e.g. Gustaffson 2016).
To monitor the developments in quality and equity in both countries before and after the split we used simple descriptive and inferential statistics from PIAAC that are complemented by the findings from the data obtained in PISA in 2000-2015. In the Czech Republic, the PIAAC respondents were selected through four-stage simple random sampling: first, electoral districts were selected, then streets within these districts, then households on these streets, and then persons aged 16-65 living in these households. The Czech data set contained 6102 respondents. The Slovak Republic selected respondents directly from the population register; the Slovak data set contained 5680 cases. Both countries achieved a response rate of 66%. Slovakia did not participate in the first PISA survey in 2000, but both countries participated in all the subsequent rounds. Sampling was carried out in accordance with international standards in two stages: first, schools were randomly selected from all schools educating fifteen-year-old students, than 30 fifteen-year-old students were randomly selected in these schools. The numbers of respondents in the individual rounds ranged from 5327 to 9400 in the Czech Republic and from 4555 to 7346 in Slovakia. To study trends in knowledge and skills we compared the performance of various cohorts in the PIAAC survey between and after the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993. The performance of the youngest cohorts in both countries has been verified by the results of PISA. Here, we carried out a regression of the results in all five rounds of PISA in each country separately. The inclusion of the last round of PISA in 2015 allowed a better estimate of a long-term trend which also went beyond the PIAAC population. The performances in all surveys were computed in International Data Explorer, and the linear regression of the PISA results was carried out in SPSS. In order to estimate trends in equity, the strengths of the relationship between performance and home background in two cohorts, 45-65 years and 25-44 years, were compared in both countries. Linear regressions were carried out for both numeracy and literacy, while home background was approximated by the sum of the highest education achieved by the mother and father: 1 – ISCED 1, 2, and 3C short; 2 – ISCED 3 (excluding 3C short), and 4; 3–ISCED 5 and 6. The proportion of missing values was 4.8% in the Czech Republic and 1.1% in Slovakia. Regression coefficients were computed in an IDB analyzer.
The relationship between parental education and performance in both literacy and numeracy is stronger in the Slovak Republic, which means that the Slovak system is less able than the Czech one to compensate for the impact of home background. The analyses of achievement suggest that in the older cohorts educated in socialist Czechoslovakia, the knowledge and skills of Slovaks were comparable to, or better than, those of Czechs. After the separation, however, young Czechs outperformed young Slovaks. In mathematics and reading both countries exhibit a deterioration; in mathematics the deterioration is steady and similar in both countries. In reading, the trend is less regular and the deterioration seems to be less steep in the Czech Republic. The biggest difference between both countries appears in problem solving but it seems to be due to the lower proficiency of Slovaks in dealing with information technologies, which has also been confirmed by other studies (Fraillon et al. 2014). These differences could be explained by the developments in the focus placed on particular domains by both societies. The PIAAC data agree very well with the data collected in PISA. In 2009, the Czech fifteen-year-olds exhibited a deterioration that is visible in both data sets. A possible explanation for this fluctuation is the curricular reform implemented in the Czech Republic in a rather chaotic way since 2004 (Janik 2014, Vrabcova & Pazlarova 2016).
Barret, G., & Riddel, W.C. (2016) Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from IALS, ALL and PIAAC. IZA Discussion Paper No. 10017, June 2016. Fraillon, J., Ainley, J., Schulz, W., Friedman, T. & Gebhardt, E. (2014). Preparing for Life in a Digital Age. The IEA International Computer and Information Literacy Study. International Report. Springer Open. Green, D.A., & Riddel, W.C. (2012) Ageing and Literacy Skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6424, March 2012. Greger, D., & Walterova, E. (2007). In pursuit of educational change: the transformation of education in the Czech Republic. Orbis Scholae 1(2), 11-44. Gustafsson, J. (2016). Lasting effects of quality of schooling: Evidence from PISA and PIAAC. Intelligence 57 (2016) 66–72. Kosová, B., & Porubský, Š. (2011). Transformačné premeny slovenského školstva po roku 1989. (Transformational changes in Slovak education after 1989). Matej Bela University: Banská Bystrica. Janík, T. (2013). Od reformy kurikula k produktivní kultuře vyučování a učení (From curricular reform to the productive culture of teaching and learning). Pedagogická orientace, 2013, roč. 23, č. 5, 634-663. OECD (2016a), Skills Matter: Further Results from the Survey of Adult Skills, OECD Skills Studies, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264258051-en OECD (2016b), PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264266490-en Paccagnella, M. (2017). Age, Ageing and Skills. Results from the Survey of Adult Skills. OECD Education Working Papers No. 132. Vrabcová, D., & Pazlarová, A. (2016). Czech teachers’ attitudes to contemporary school curricular reform: current view. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences 217 ( 2016 ) 293-302.
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