14 SES 14, Family Education and Parenting - Literacy Issues
Inequitable educational trajectories for groups of children limit the degree to which educational systems can foster social and individual wellbeing. One source of differential progress arises over the summer break with low socioeconomic status (SES) and ‘minority’ children being especially susceptible to lower rates of gain over that period. This summer learning effect (SLE) can be seen in their literacy development. Practices at home and school as well as the relationships between these two immediate environments of the child influence that development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Analyses of learning patterns over the school year and summer break provide a means of understanding these ecological connections and how variability in social and cultural practices of families and schools contribute to ongoing learning. This SLE study extends the understanding of these two important environments for children’s literacy development – school and home – and their inter-relationship.
There are a number of specific explanatory variables posited as causes of summer learning differences. These include dissimilarities in access to literacy resources, variations in the modeling of literacy practices by family members, teachers and peers and differences in students’ motivation to engage in literacy activities (Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988; de Jong & Leseman, 2001; Guthrie, Schafer, Wang, & Afflerbach, 1995; Mandel Morrow & Temlock Fields, 2007). Furthermore, out-of-school literacy experiences of children from low income backgrounds are often disconnected to the literacy practices of the classroom (Dyson, 2001).
The PISA and TIMMS studies were not the first instances in which the correlation between low SES and achievement in the German school system became apparent, but corroborated the relationship. The SLE as a possible important factor in these achievement disparities has only come to the attention of the German research community quite recently (Coelen & Siewert, 2008). Thus there has been little research in Germany on the SLE in general and limited research internationally on the literacy practices at home and school that influence the SLE. A framework based on socio-cultural practices in ecological contexts would predict that the SLE differ across contexts within countries and even within communities (McNaughton, 1995).
Guiding research questions were:
- What is the extent and nature of the SLE in writing and reading in the communities of two primary schools in Germany situated in low and high-income communities?
- What kind of literacy practices can be identified at school and students’ homes which can be associated with sustained literacy development over summer?
The data from this study provides a different picture of the SLE than have North American studies. It is argued that the SLE is not a problem solely facing low-income schools since the study documents variability at both schools. The paper offers specific descriptions of practices and resources present in the local context. By adding to the understanding of the SLE and its variability in different education systems, school communities and different contexts the findings allow for contextualisation and provide a basis for the design of intervention studies focusing on practices in families and schools.
Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P. T., & Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23(3), 285-303. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Coelen, H., & Siewert, J. (2008). Ferieneffekte Grundbegriffe Ganztagsbildung - Das Handbuch (pp. 432-441). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. de Jong, P. F., & Leseman, P. P. M. (2001). Lasting effects of home literacy on reading achievement in school. Journal of School Psychology, 39(5), 389-414. Dyson, A. H. (2001). Where are the childhoods in childhood literacy? An exploration in outer (school) space. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(1), 9-39. Guthrie, J. T., Schafer, W., Wang, Y. Y., & Afflerbach, P. (1995). Relationships of instruction to amount of reading: An exploration of social, cognitive, and instructional connections. Reading Research Quarterly, 30(1), 8-25. Lenhard, W., & Schneider, W. (2006). Ein Leseverständnistest für Erst- bis Sechstklässler: ELFE 1 - 6 Manual (Deutsche Schultests) Göttingen: Hogrefe. Mandel Morrow, L., & Temlock Fields, J. (2007). Use of literacy in the home and at school. In M. B. Pressley, Alison K.; Perry, Kristen H.; Reffitt, Kelly E.; Moorhead Reynolds, Julia (Ed.), Shaping literacy achievement: Research we have, research we need (pp. 83-99). New York: Guilford Press. May, P. (2010). HSP 1-9 Hamburger Schreib-Probe. Diagnose orthografischer Kompetenz zur Erfassung der grundlegenden Rechtschreibstrategien. Manual Stuttgart: Ernst Klett Verlag. McNaughton, S. (1995). Patterns of emergent literacy: Processes of development and transition. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
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