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Quality and equity of educational systems worldwide: trends over time and determining factors

Boek - Dissertatie

Education has an essential role in societies, showing both individual as well as social benefits. Therefore, countries worldwide aim for quality and equity of their educational system(s). In this dissertation, we mapped trends over time of educational systems' quality and equity and explored some possibly determining (classroom) factors. Because there is no consensus on the definitions and on appropriate indicators of quality and equity, both concepts were confined in this dissertation. Achievement in various domains (i.e., math, science, and reading literacy) was used as an indicator of educational systems' quality, including mean achievement as well as achievement levels of the bottom and top 10% achieving students. Equity was defined in this dissertation as the non-existence of a relation between student achievement and background characteristics. In the first section, we shed light on the trend over time of quality and equity in primary educational systems (Grade 4) worldwide. Data of TIMSS 2003 and 2011 of 17 educational systems are used with regard to math and science achievement (Chapter 1). Data of PIRLS 2006 and 2016 of 29 educational systems are used to map these trends with regard to reading literacy achievement (Chapter 2). Mapping these trends over time simultaneously for different educational systems provides us benchmarks to evaluate a system's quality and equity, both in light of its own previous outcomes as well as in light of other educational systems' outcomes. Results across educational systems indicate an overall increase of math and reading literacy achievement, whereas the level of science achievement remains stable. In each of the three subject domains, the general trend across educational systems indicates that systems are evolving towards more social inequity as time passes. However, results also reveal large differences between educational systems. Results in this first section may serve as a starting point for educational systems to monitor, explain, and improve their educational quality and equity. In the second section of this dissertation, we investigate factors which may explain educational systems' quality and equity, making use of data of TIMSS 2015 (Grade 4). With classroom practices - and in specific the opportunities to learn given to students in day-to-day teaching practices - being one of the prime explanations for student achievement (after correction for student background) - this section investigates the relation of two major classroom factors with educational systems' quality and equity: instructional quality (Chapter 3) and textbooks (Chapter 4). First, instructional quality - consisting of three dimensions, i.e., classroom management, supportive climate, and cognitive activation - and its relation with quality and equity was investigated within the educational systems of Flanders (Belgium), Germany, and Norway. Results indicate that some dimensions of instructional quality serve as a catalyst in increasing achievement in education systems. Furthermore, no significant moderation of instructional quality in the relation between student background factors and achievement was found, indicating that all students benefit from the same educational practices. Second, we investigate textbooks' contribution to quality and equity in Flanders. Results show that in Flanders there is (a) a relation between textbooks and math achievement, across content and cognitive subdomains, and mostly in the lower quantiles of the achievement distribution but (b) no relation between textbooks and (in)equity. Results of this second section may give directions to educational practitioners and policy makers in creating and providing effective learning environments and therefore contribute to countries' strive towards more educational quality and equity.
Jaar van publicatie:2019