09 SES 02 A, What Influences Reading Achievement? Findings based on PIRLS
Recent findings from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) indicate for Germany significant social disparities in reading achievement: girls have higher reading competencies than boys and students from high-SES and non-migrant backgrounds outperform students from low-SES and migrant backgrounds in 2016 and across the study cycles (Hußmann et al., 2017). Further, the proportion of students with reading achievement too low to reach the intermediate PIRLS benchmark continues to remain high in Germany with 19 percent in 2016 (ibid.). Against this background this paper investigates the questions whether these social disparities can, at least partly, be explained by differences in the students’ reading self-concept, reading motivation, reading behavior and home literacy environment, and which role these variables play regarding the risk of low reading achievement.
In PIRLS, the concept of reading literacy does not only refer to the purposes for reading and processes of comprehension but also to the students’ self-concept, motivation and behavior in reading (Mullis & Martin, 2015). Reading self-concept and reading motivation are of considerable relevance, as these constructs are substantially correlated with reading achievement and easier to enhance by pedagogical interventions than, for example, basic cognitive abilities (Artelt et al., 2007). According to the theoretical order of factors in models of motivational determinants of reading ability it can be assumed that students’ reading self-concept and intrinsic reading motivation influence their reading behavior (in terms of the amount and frequency of reading), which in turn influences their reading abilities (Möller & Schiefele 2004). Research syntheses document positive relations between reading achievement and reading/verbal self-concept (Marsh & Martin, 2011), intrinsic reading motivation (Schiefele, Schaffner, Möller & Wigfield, 2012) as well as reading amount and frequency (Mol & Bus, 2011). The assumption of a mediating role of the amount and frequency of reading on the relation between motivational factors and reading achievement is supported by longitudinal studies (e.g., Becker, McElvany & Kortenbruck, 2010; Pfost, Dörfler & Artelt, 2012; Stutz, Schaffner & Schiefele, 2016). Extended expectancy-value models allow to systematically integrate the assumptions on the relations between reading self-concept, reading motivation and reading behavior (Möller & Schiefele, 2004) and also can take into account that such variables are themselves influenced by the socio-cultural context (Simpkins, Fredricks & Eccles, 2015). In line with these models it can be assumed that structural features of families (e.g., SES) and child characteristics (e.g., gender) are related to process features in the families (e.g., cultural activities) which in turn may influence the development of the students’ individual traits (e.g., motivation) and their competence development. A close relation between structural family features and students’ reading achievement has been repeatedly shown in the German PIRLS data (for current findings see Hußmann, Stubbe & Kasper, 2017; Wendt & Schwippert, 2017). As regards familial process variables, findings from PIRLS 2006 reveal relations between socio-economic status, home literacy environment and students’ reading achievement which, in Germany, are comparatively close (Stubbe et al., 2007).
The analyses to be presented here further study such relationships and investigate for the four cycles of PIRLS the explanatory power of structural and sociodemographic variables on the one hand (i.e., parental education and occupational status, students’ migration background and gender), and process as well as individual variables on the other (i.e., the students’ home literacy environment as well as their reading self-concept, motivation and behavior), for the students’ reading achievement and their risk of belonging to the group of weak readers.
Two sets of multilevel regression models were fitted based on student and parent data from the four PIRLS cycles (2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016), using variables from both the international parts of the study and the German national extensions of instruments. The multilevel analyses were conducted with the software SAS/STAT (version 9.4) and took into account the nested data structure (Hußmann, Wendt, Kasper, Bos & Goy, 2017). The total number of cases in the pooled dataset was n = 23419. Cases with missing data were deleted listwise (ibid.); options of multiple imputation will be explored for this paper. In the first set of regression models, the dependent variable was reading achievement on the overall PIRLS reading scale. In the second set, the logistic regression analyses, belonging to the group of students with low reading achievement (i.e., not reaching the intermediate benchmark on the overall reading scale as compared to scoring higher) was the dependent variable. As regards the independent variables, for reading self-concept and reading motivation trend indices across items from the four PIRLS cycles were scaled and the constructs were included as continuous variables in the models, as was done for the home literacy environment, where a trend index was scaled from the parental responses to four aspects: number of books at home, number of children’s books at home, parents’ attitudes towards reading and parental reading activities with their child. The indices showed good measurement characteristics. The students reading behavior was included as a dichotomized variable (reading for fun outside of school – daily or almost daily vs. never or almost never). Migration background of the students (one vs. no parent born abroad; both vs. none parents born abroad) as well parental education (at least one vs. no parent with a degree of ISCED level 6 or higher) and occupational status (high vs. low professional status) and students’ gender were included as dichotomized variables. Additionally, the scores on a test of basic cognitive abilities of the students (KFT, N2; Heller & Perleth, 2000) were included as a control variable.
Preliminary findings from the multilevel regressions show that all variables included can explain about 50 percent of the variance in reading achievement. The analyses also indicate that substantial parts of the variation in reading achievement which can be explained by parental education and occupational status as well as by the migration background and gender of the students can also be explained by high degrees of students’ reading motivation, reading self-concept, reading behavior as well as the students’ home literacy resources and activities. Further, the effects of the latter variables remain largely robust when controlling for parental education and occupational status as well as students’ gender and migration background; in turn, the effect of gender on reading achievement is no longer significant and the effects of status and migration background are substantially reduced when controlling for motivation, self-concept, reading behavior and home literacy resources and activities. Additional findings from the logistic multilevel regressions show that students from families with an academic educational background have a substantially reduced risk of belonging to the group of low-achievers. Furthermore, students from families with a migration background have a substantially increased risk of belonging to the low-achieving group, especially in case of both parents not born in Germany. At the same time, high degrees of reading self-concept, reading behavior and home literacy resources and activities go along with a substantially decreased the risk of low reading achievement. As a tentative conclusion, motivational and behavioral variables as well as home environment support for reading might be considered as possible leverage points for fostering reading achievement of fourth-grade students in Germany. Further, these variables may also be considered as potential factors explaining, and possibly reducing, achievement differences for social disparities between boys and girls and between students from different social and ethnic backgrounds.
Artelt, C., McElvany, N., Christmann, U., Richter, T., Groeben, N., Köster, J., Schneider, W., Stanat, P., Ostermeier, C., Schiefele, U., Valtin, R., Ring, K., & Saalbach, H. (2007). Förderung von Lesekompetenz - Expertise. Bonn: BMBF. Becker, M., McElvany, N., & Kortenbruck, M. (2010). Intrinsic and extrinsic reading motivation as predictors of reading literacy. J Educ Psychol, 102, 773-785. Hußmann, A., Wendt, H., Bos, W., Bremerich-Vos, A., Kasper, D., Lankes, E.-M., McElvany, N., Stubbe, T., & Valtin, R. (eds.). (2017). IGLU 2016. Münster: Waxmann. Hußmann, A., Wendt, H., Kasper, D., Bos, W., & Goy, M. (2017). Ziele, Anlage und Durchführung der Internationalen Grundschul-Lese-Untersuchung. In A. Hußmann et al. (eds.), IGLU 2016 (pp. 29-73). Münster: Waxmann. Hußmann, A., Stubbe, T., & Kasper, D. (2017). Soziale Herkunft und Lesekompetenzen von Schülerinnen und Schülern. In A. Hußmann et al. (eds.), IGLU 2016 (pp. 195-218). Münster: Waxmann. Marsh, H. & Martin, A. (2011). Academic self-concept and academic achievement: Relations and causal ordering. Br J Educ Psychol, 81, 59-77. Mol, S. & Bus, A. (2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychol Bull, 137(2), 267-296. Möller, J., & Schiefele, U. (2004). Motivationale Grundlagen der Lesekompetenz. In U. Schiefele, C. Artelt, W. Schneider, & P. Stanat (eds.), Struktur und Förderung von Lesekompetenz (pp. 101-124). Wiesbaden: VS. Mullis, I. & Martin, M. (eds.). (2015). PIRLS 2016 assessment framework (2nd ed.). Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS&PIRLS International Study Center. Pfost, M., Dörfler, T., & Artelt, C. (2012). Reading competence development of poor readers in a German elementary school sample. J Res Read, 35(4), 411-426. Schiefele, U., Schaffner, E., Möller, J., & Wigfield, A. (2012). Dimensions of reading motivation and their relation to reading behavior and competence. Read Res Q, 47(4), 427-463. Simpkins, S., Fredricks, J., & Eccles, J. (2015). The role of parents in the ontogeny of achievement-related motivation and behavioral choices: I. Introduction. Child Dev, 80(2), 1-22. Stubbe, T., Buddeberg, I., Hornberg, S., & McElvany, N. (2007). Lesesozialisation im Elternhaus im internationalen Vergleich. In W. Bos et al. (eds.), IGLU 2006 (pp. 299-327). Münster: Waxmann. Stutz, F., Schaffner, E., & Schiefele, U. (2016). Relations among reading motivation, reading amount, and reading comprehension in the early elementary grades. Learn Individ Differ, 45, 101-113. Wendt, H. & Schwippert, K. (2017). Lesekompetenzen von Schülerinnen und Schülern mit und ohne Migrationshintergrund. In A. Hußmann et al. (eds.), IGLU 2016 (pp. 219-232). Münster: Waxmann.
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