Scholarly article on topic 'An Examination of 7th Grade Students’ Achievement Levels on the Turkish Subtest of the Level Determination Examination According to a Set of Demographic Variables'

An Examination of 7th Grade Students’ Achievement Levels on the Turkish Subtest of the Level Determination Examination According to a Set of Demographic Variables Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Devrim Erdem-Keklik

Abstract The purpose of this study was to examine if students’ achievement levels on the Turkish subtest of the Level Determination Examinations held for 7th graders during the academic year of 2008–2009 differed according to gender, parental level of education, family income, type of school and the number of books in the household. Participants of the study were 376 Turkish 7th grade students. Students’ scores on the Turkish subtest did not differ according to gender. However, the scores did differ according to mother's and father's level of education, the number of books in the household, monthly income and the type of school.

Academic research paper on topic "An Examination of 7th Grade Students’ Achievement Levels on the Turkish Subtest of the Level Determination Examination According to a Set of Demographic Variables"

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Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 12 (2011) 465-469

International Conference on Education and Educational Psychology (ICEEPSY 2010)

An Examination of 7th Grade Students' Achievement Levels on the Turkish Subtest of the Level Determination Examination According

to a Set of Demographic Variables

Devrim Erdem-Keklika*

aFaculty of Educational Sciences, Ankara University, Ankara, 06590, Turkey

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine if students' achievement levels on the Turkish subtest of the Level Determination Examinations held for 7th graders during the academic year of 2008-2009 differed according to gender, parental level of education, family income, type of school and the number of books in the household. Participants of the study were 376 Turkish 7th grade students. Students' scores on the Turkish subtest did not differ according to gender. However, the scores did differ according to mother's and father's level of education, the number of books in the household, monthly income and the type of school.

© 20090 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dr. Zafer Bekirogullari of Y.B. Keywords: National exam; Turkish subtest; 7th graders, reading comprehension

1. Introduction

Begining from the academic year of 1997-1998, students have been selected to high schools based on their scores on exams prepared by the Measurement and Evaluation General Directory and Educational Technologies General Directory of the National Ministry of Education. Until 2008 only 8th graders were taking these examinations. Starting from 2008, students from 6 th and 7th grades were also required to take the exams along with the 8th graders. The new exams are called Level Determination Examination (Seviye Belirleme Sinavi: SBS) which is consisted of sub-tests of Turkish, mathematics, science, social studies and foreign languages. Students levels of cognitive competencies such as comprehension, interpretation, analysis and associating on the concepts, generalizations and principles taught in these courses are tested by these subtests. Students' scores and determine if students' placement in science, Anatolian, Anatolian Technical, Anatolian Occupational, Anatolian teachers, Anatolian Theological, private science, private occupational, health occupations and justice high schools.

In this new system aimed at evaluating students' achievement from a process-oriented stand point, students' scores on SBS at the end of their 6th, 7th and 8th grades are used as part of determining their high schools. In addition to their scores on this exams, their grade point average during these three grades and scores on a set of behavioral

* Devrim Erdem-Keklik. Tel.: +90-312-363-33-60/7112; fax: +0 312 362 7397 E-mail address: erdem_devrim@yahoo.com.

1877-0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Dr. Zafer Bekirogullari of Y.B. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.02.057

indicators (such as students' adjustment to school environment, their self-care scores, scores of self-awareness, social skills, adjustment to shared values, the degree of possessing a solution-orientation, participation in social activities, responsibility and team work, effective study and sensitivity to surroundings). More specifically, students scores on SBS in 6, 7, and 8th grades has a 70% weight, their grade point average during these three grades has a weight of 25% and their scores on the behavioral indicators has a weight of 5%. In so doing, the rationale for the new system claims that students'placement in high schools, which in turn highly affect their career development, is not determined by a one-time examination and rather reflects a process-performance model of placement. Students are given a grade score which is a combination of the above mentioned three kinds of evaluations. While deciding on students' placement in high schools their grade scores in 6th grade has a weight of 25% ; the 7th grade score has a weight of 35% and the 8th grade score has a weight of 40% in their "Scores for Placement in Secondary Education." This new system presumes that by so doing students motivation through elementary education and in every course as well as their other conducts will be improved since they all contribute to their placement in high schools. Another advantage of the new system was that it was expected to provide concrete feedback on students' performance according to elementary school attended, classroom, courses, teachers, towns, cities, provinces and regions (MEB. SBS Handbook, 2008).

Some claim that the new SBS system has brought about increased importance of measurement and evaluations done by teachers. Furthermore, some authors are also of the belief that the new system makes a multi-dimensional evaluation of students' performance through time (i.e., 2008 SBS Handbook). Given that students in Turkey go through elaborate examinations in order to enter a higher level of education, an examination of their achievement according to a set of variable can provide valuable insight about factor associated with their performance.

Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine if students' achievement levels on the Turkish subtest of the SBS held for 7th graders during the academic year of 2008-2009 differed according to gender, parental level of education, family income, type of school and the number of books in the household.

The 2009 SBS Turkish subtest consisted of 21 questions. Fiften of them were reading comprehension questions while six questions were grammer, word structure and types of words.

2. Method

Participants of this correlational survey study were 376 7th graders who took the 2009 Level Determination Examination (SBS) in the Qankaya district of Ankara, Turkey. Information on students' gender (female, male); parental level of education (illiterate, elementary school graduate, middle school graduate, high school graduate or university graduate), monthly income of the family (Less than 1000TL, 1000TL-1999TL, 2000TL-2999TL, 3000TL-3999 TL, 4000TL and more), type of school (state or private) and the number of books in the household (less than 25, 26-100, 101-200, 201 and more) was obtained through a questionnaire developed by the researcher. Students' scores on the examination were obtained from respective school principles. Analysis of variance and t-test were used for data analysis.

3. Findings

An independent-samples t-test was conducted to evaluate whether the students' achievement levels on the Turkish subtest differed according to gender. The test yielded that gender differences were not statistical significant on the Turkish sub-test scores [t(374)=1.985, p=.052, ^=.009].

The one-way analysis of variance was conducted to investigate SBS Turkish subtest scores in mother's level of education. The independent variable, parental level of education, included five categories. However, since none of the parents were reported as illiterate, this variable was entered into the analyses with four categories. ANOVA results showed that mothers' level of education [F(3,372)=19.123, p=.000<.05, ^2=.134] differed significantly on the SBS Turkish sub-test scores. However, the effect size indicated a small proportion of SBS Turkish sub-test scores variance was accounted for by this factor. The Scheffe post hoc test was conducted to determine which mother's level of education categories were significantly different. Result revealed that university graduate category of mother's level of education significantly differed in SBS Turkish sub-test scores from all other mother's level of education. Moreover, scores of children of elementary school graduate mothers were significantly different on SBS Turkish sub-test from scores of children with high school graduate mothers. As shown in Table 1, students whose

mothers had higher levels of education had higher scores on the Turkish subtest than those whose mothers had lower levels of education.

Table 1. SBS Turkish subtest scores according to mother's level of education

Mother's level of education Mean Std. Deviation N

Elementary school graduate 12.81 3.587 32

Middle school graduate 14.24 3.568 34

High school graduate 15.39 3.286 108

University graduate 16.69 2.791 202

Total 15.76 3.301 376

One-way analysis of variance was conducted to investigate SBS Turkish subtest scores in father's level of education. The ANOVA was significant [F(3,372)=23.857, p=.000<.05, ^=.161]. However, calculated effect size indicated a small proportion of SBS Turkish sub-test scores variance was accounted for by the factor. The Scheffe post hoc test was conducted to determine which father's level of education categories were significantly different. Result revealed that university graduate category of father's level of education significantly differed in SBS Turkish sub-test scores from all other father's level of education categories. Moreover, elementary school graduate were significantly different on SBS Turkish sub-test scores from high school graduate. As shown inTable 2, students whose fathers had higher levels of education had higher scores on the Turkish subtest than those whose fathers had lower levels of education.

Table 2. SBS Turkish subtest scores according to father's level of education

Father's level of education Mean Std. Deviation N

Elementary school graduate 11.89 2.988 18

Middle school graduate 13.90 3.685 40

High school graduate 14.97 3.503 86

University graduate 16.68 2.715 232

Total 15.76 3.301 376

One-way ANOVA was conducted to evaluate the relationship between Turkish sub-test scores and the family income. The independent variable, the family income, included five categories. The ANOVA was significant [F(4,371)= 14.326, p=.000, ^2=.134]. However, the strength of relationship between Turkish sub-test scores and the family income was weak, with the family income factor accounting for 13.4% of the variance of the dependent variable. Using the Scheffe procedure to control type I error, post hoc tests revealed that those with income lower than 3000 TL differed from those with income over 3000 TL. As shown in Table 3, children from families with higher income had higher scores on the Turkish subtest.

Table 3. SBS Turkish subtest scores according to family monthly income

Monthly income Mean Std. Deviation N

Less than 1000 TL 13.29 2.866 24

1000-1999 TL 14.63 3.810 102

2000-2999 TL 15.66 3.344 116

3000-3999 TL 16.99 1.990 73

4000 TL and more 17.38 2.282 61

Total 15.76 3.301 376

An independent-samples t-test was conducted to evaluate whether the students' achievement levels on the Turkish subtest differed according to type of school. The test was significant t(374)=3.793, p=.000. However, effect size was very small -q2=.046. The eta square index indicated that 4.6% of the variance of the Turkish subtest scores were accounted for by whether a student was in private or in state school. Students in state school (M=15.58, SD=3.33) on the average Turkish subtest scores less than those in private school (M=18.00, SD=1.866).

In order to examine if Seventh grade students' scores on the Turkish subset of SBS differed significantly according to the number of books in the household, one-way ANOVA was conducted. The independent variable, the number of books in the household, included four categories. The ANOVA result was significant [F(3,372)=13.732, p=.000, ^2=.100]. However, the strength of relationship between Turkish sub-test scores and the number of books in the household was weak, with the number of books in the household factor accounting for 10% of the variance of

the dependent variable. The number of Turkish sub-test mean scores also increased as the number of books in the household. The Scheffe post hoc test was conducted to determine which the number of books in the household categories were significantly different. The results of these tests showed that there were significant differences in the means between the group (those with over 200 books differed significantly from all the other categories). Likewise, there was a significant difference between households with fewer than 25 books and those with 101-200 books. As shown in Table 4, students coming from households with more books scored higher on the Turkish subtest.

Table 4. SBS Turkish subtest scores according to number of books in the household

Number of books Mean Std. Deviation N

Less than 25 13.50 3.608 30

26 - 100 14.97 3.463 104

101 - 200 15.64 3.303 101

201 and more 16.91 2.639 141

Total 15.76 3.301 376

4. Discussion

Results of this study showed that 7th grade students' scores on the Turkish subtest of SBS did not differed significantly according to gender. This is consistent with the research done by Lynn and Mikk (2009) who stated that in the last century many studies have revealed the advantages of girls in reading. It has frequently been asserted that women have higher average verbal abilities than men. However, these assertions have not been universally accepted. In the metaanalysis of sex differences in verbal abilities in the United States by Hyde and Linn (1988) it was calculated that in pre-1973 studies girls had an advantage of 0.23d, while in post-1973 studies it had dropped to 0.10d. But the girls' advantage of 0.10d was only obtained by omitting the boys' advantage of 0.11d of 18 year olds on the verbal SAT (Scholastic Assessment) in 1985 (n = 977,361). Hyde and Linn (1988) also showed that the girls' advantage on verbal abilities varied according to age and the type of ability. In reading comprehension, girls below the age 6 performed better than boys (0.31 d), but among older children the sex difference was negligible. In vocabulary, girls aged 6-10 years performed better than boys (0.26d), but among 11-18 year olds there was no difference.

Results of this study showed that 7th grade students' scores on the Turkish subtest of SBS did differ according to both mother's and father's levels of education. In addition, as parental level of education increases so did students' scores on the Turkish subtest. Findings of this study are parallel to those indicating associations between parental level of education and achievement level (Al Samarrai and Peasgood, 1998; Jones and White, 2000; Tomoff, 2000). Such studies report that as parental level of education increases so do resources of the family which positively influence children's reading comprehension. Using data from PIRLS 2001, Erman-Aslanoglu (2007) examined the relationships between some family characteristics and reading comprehension levels of Turkish 4th graders, and found that father's level of education had the second higher factor loading (following the number of books in the household). Mother's level of education had the third highest factor loading for reading comprehension. More specifically, mother's level of education and father's level of education accounted for 28% and 40% of variance in reading comprehension respectively.

Results of the current study showed that 7th grade students' scores on the Turkish subtest of SBS did differ according to the number of books in the household. Students from households with more books scored higher on the Turkish subtest. This finding was consistent with those of previous studies. Rowe (1995), Bos and Kuiper (1999) also found that there was a significant positive relationship between the number of books in the household and reading comprehension and academic. Using data from PIRLS 2001, Erman-Aslanoglu (2007) examined the relationships between some family characteristics and reading comprehension levels of 4th graders. The author reported the number of books in the household had the highest factor loading among family characteristics. The study by Evans, Kelley, Sikora and Treiman at Nevada, UCLA and Australian National University is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted on what influences the level of education a child will attain. Evans and colleagues (2010), stated that having books in the home is twice as important as the father's education level, and more important than whether a child was reared in China or the United States. The researchers were struck by the strong effect having books in the home had on children's educational attainment even above and beyond such factors as education level of the parents, the country's GDP, the father's occupation or the political system of the country

Results of this study showed that 7th grade students with higher income families obtained higher scores on the Turkish subtest of SBS than their less fortunate peers. Kanyonga, Certo and Launcelot (2006) investigated the relationship between home environment and reading achievement. The home environment variables examined in their study were gender, stay, reading at home, books, meals, home and SES. The results of these analyses demonstrate that, of these variables, SES was the strongest predictor of reading achievement. This is consistent with previous research that material resources in the home are associated with children's reading achievement (Grissmer, Kirby, Berends, and Williamson, 1994; Parcel and Menghan, 1990; Sarracho, 1997; White, 1982). With the increase in the families income raises resources and opportunities families offer for their children which in turn seem to have a positive relationship with their children's school achievement levels.

5. Conclusion and Recommendation

Results of this study showed that: (i) Students' scores on the Turkish subtest did not differ according to gender. (ii) However, the scores did differ according to mother's level of education, father's level of education, the number of books in the household, monthly income and the type of school. (iii) Private school students scored overall higher on the Turkish subtest of the SBS than their peers who attended to state schools. (iv) Students coming from higher income levels also obtained higher scores than their less fortunate peers. (v) When father's level of education and income were considered together, students whose fathers had higher education and were from higher SES had higher scores. (vi) Students from households with more books scored also scored higher on the Turkish subtest.

Considering that the number of books in the household is positively associated with students' achievement levels in Turkish, families can consider having a variety of books in their households. The participants of this study were students from the Qankaya district of the capital city of Ankara. Thus the sample was relatively homogenous. Although differences were found between the factors, the effect sizes were considerably low. Therefore similar studies should be done with more hetereogenous samples. Also, longitidunal studies examining changes in students' reading comprehension and grammer skills through time will provide value insight.

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