09 SES 16 A, Relating Home, School and Out-of-School-Care to Achievement: Findings from TIMSS and PISA
In a large number of studies it has been shown that education is a protective factor for most individuals’ negative life outcomes (Durlak, 1998; Heckman & Kautz, 2012; Levin, 2012). Graduating from upper secondary education is highly predictive of adult life outcomes in terms of educational level and working life situation (Durlak, 1998). However, in comparison to not placed children, research has indicated that children and youths placed in out of home care and have considerable worse educational and working life outcomes due to bad prerequisites and experiences (Zetlin, MacLeod & Kimm, 2012). Children and youths placed in out of home care seem to be vulnerable to school failure (Zetlin et al., 2012), they don´t get the same opportunities to learn due to a number of unfavorable circumstance (Emerson & Lovitt, 2003; Schwartz, 1999) such as a frequent pattern of changing schools and foster families (Emerson & Lovitt, 2003) and being exposed to alcohol before birth (Powers and Stotland, 2002). Early school failure seems to be a factor of major importance in order to explain and understand a less successful trajectory in the educational system and in working life as well as behavioral problems, drug abuse and mental illness. Children placed in out of home care are not a homogeneous group. Some children are placed in out of home care at an early age whereas others are placed at an older age. Some of the children placed in out of home care have long and stable placements whereas others have several shorter placements. Overall, research has consistently shown results that children placed in out of home care have higher risk on a number of negative adult outcomes. These children are 10 times more likely to be excluded from school and 12 times more likely to leave school with no qualifications (McSherry et al., 2016).
In 1994 a new grading system was introduced in Sweden with criterion-referenced grades. Before, a norm-referenced grading system was in use. The norm-referenced and criterion-referenced grading systems differ in fundamental ways. A major difference between the two grading systems concern the grading scale. In the previous norm-referenced grading system no fail step existed. Thus, formally almost all students who had participated in the instruction in school and who wanted to enter upper secondary school could. In the present criterion-referenced grading system, students have the risk of failing due to the Fail step in the grading scale which affects students´ possibility to enter the next level in the educational system.
According to the Conservation of Resources Stress theory (COR), students´ resources in terms of competencies, knowledge, self-esteem and self-regulation and more may be threatened in stressful situations in school and life. The theory builds on studies from a wide array of disciplines which investigated individuals´ responses to stressful and threatening situations. The risk of failures and low school results may be stressful experiences for students, which can threaten their resources, such as confidence and self-esteem (Frydenberg, 2008). When resources are threatened, students can respond in less productive ways such as avoiding challenges in the learning situation and blaming failures on their inner capacity while a more productive response is to meet challenges with confidence and not blaming failure on their inner capacity but on external factors (Hobfoll, 1989; Covington, 2001).
The overall purpose of the study is to investigate how the norm-referenced and criterion-referenced grading system affected placed children and youths´ achievement in school.
The subjects were 1,936,913 students born between 1973 and 1990. This is the whole population of 18 cohorts of students in the Swedish educational system and full information is available for subject grades, national test results, placed in care or not, characteristics of the placement, gender, and socioeconomic status and educational background. Data was retrieved from The Gothenburg Educational Longitudinal Database (GOLD), which contains register data compiled by Statistics Sweden and where information such as native birth country, school achievement and educational careers, parental educational attainment, and grades from compulsory and upper secondary education is available. In this study, data concerning being placed or not placed, characteristics of the placement, gender, grades from compulsory and upper secondary education, educational attainment are used. Methods of analyses First, descriptive statistics were estimated. Second, analyses of trends over time were estimated in order to investigate the effect of change of the grading system on placed students´ achievement in school. Third, effect sizes were estimated in order to analyse the strength of the estimates and differences between placed and not placed individuals on their grades. Finally, regression and logistic regressions were conducted in order to investigate the relations between the independent variables and the dependent variables GPA9, GPA12 and Graduation for children and youth placed in out of home care. Cohen´s d was computed as a measure of effect size. Values of d above .10 are worth considering when the sample size is large and multiple variables are used, which is the case for the current sample (Ellis, 2010). The analyses were conducted in the SPSS program (2016) and Mplus (2009).
The results show effect sizes of Cohen´s d of .91 between individuals not placed and placed in out of home care, for GPA in 9th Grade, with benefits for not placed individuals. The corresponding effect size for GPA in 12th Grade was Cohen´s d .59. The introduction of the criterion-referenced grading system in 1994 with a grading scale that contains a fail step, seem to affect individuals placed in out of home care more severely, compared to individuals placed in out of home care who received grades in the former norm-referenced grading system without a fail step. In sum, experience of a non-compensatory grading system affected the children and youth placed in out of home care sever and negative. In sum, the results show that students receiving grades within the criterion referenced grading system, have lower GPA in both 9th and 12th Grade. However, they have higher odds to finish upper secondary education. Being placed in out of home care at an older age and having more placements are negatively associated to GPA 9 and 12 and associated with lower odds to finish upper secondary education.
Covington, M. V. (2000). Goal theory, motivation, and school achievement: an integrative review. Annual Review of Psychology, 51, 171–200. Durlak, J. A. (1998). Common risk and protective factors in successful prevention programs. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, , 68(4), 512–520. Emerson, J., & Lovitt, T. (2003). The educational plight of foster children in schools and what can be done about it. Remedial and Special Education, 24(4), 199-203. Harlen,W., & Deakin Crick, R. (2002). A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on motivation for learning (EPPI-Centre Review, version 1.1*). In: Research evidence in educational library. Issue 1. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education. Heckman, J. J., & Kautz, T. (2012). Hard evidence on soft skills. Labour Economics, 19, 451–464. Hobfoll, S. E. (1989). Conversation of resources: a new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist, 44(3), 513–524. Klapp, A., Cliffordson, C., & Gustafsson, J.-E. (2014). The effect of being graded on later achievement: evidence from 13-year olds in Swedish compulsory school. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology, 1-19. doi:10.1080/01443410.2014933176. Levin, H.M. (2012). More than just test scores. Monograph, Prospects, UNESCO. McSherry, D., Fargas Malet, M., & Weatherall, K. (2016). Comparing long-term placements for young children in care: Does placement type really matter? Children and Youth Services Review, 69, 56–66. Powers, P., & Stotland, J. (2002). Lost in the shuffle revisited. Philadelphia: The Education Law Center. Schwartz, W. (1999). School support for foster families. New York: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education, Institute for Urban and Minority Education. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED434189). Zetlin, A., MacLeod, E., & Kimm, C. (2012). Beginning Teacher Challenges Instructing Students Who Are in Foster Care. Remedial and Special Education, 33(1) 4–13.
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