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The significance of student age variance in estimating value added measures for Polish lower secondary schools

Research shows that there are at least four age related factors correlated with the level of school achievement and improvement: month of birth, early or delayed school entry and grade retention. Educational value added (EVA) measures are used in the evaluation of school effectiveness. They are estimated from relative increases in achievement. However, Polish EVA models do not include student age, which may bias the calculated indicators. This article presents findings from a study estimating the magnitude of this bias for Polish lower secondary schools over four years (2010–2013). The results demonstrated that the inclusion of student age only slightly changed EVA estimates. The bias caused by omitting age in recent years seems, therefore, rather minor.


Aleksandra Jaisińska-Maciążek, Educational Research Institute

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The paper aims to verify two hypotheses. The first states that the differentiation of initial 1st grade pupil skills is negatively correlated with age at entry to school. This was tested according to findings from the ERI study Six and seven year olds at the start of school. The variation of reading and writing scores of 1164 pupils aged 5.9–7.9 years who were beginning 1st grade decreased in subsequent age quartiles. The second hypothesis – that classroom differentiation of pupils’ initial skills in 1st grade is positively correlated with the birthdate effect in 3rd grade – was tested on data of 4838 pupils from 254 classrooms drawn from the 2011 PIRLS and TIMSS studies in Poland. Skills were evaluated on the basis of parental reports. Hierarchical linear analysis (gender, SES and school location controlled) showed that the greater the differentiation of language skills in 1st grade, the greater the birthdate effect in mathematics in 3rd grade. This result suggests that school entry age is of lesser importance than the methods used to reduce differences in children’s school readiness at the onset of education.

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