Consider the Children: Unintended Consequences of the Jamaican Primary Education Accountability System
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CitationMiller, Dawn E. E. 2017. Consider the Children: Unintended Consequences of the Jamaican Primary Education Accountability System. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractIn a move to address the persistently low literacy levels of primary schoolchildren, in 2009, the Jamaican Ministry of Education reclassified the Grade-4 Literacy Test (GFLT) to high stakes. Since then, students must pass the GFLT before they can be promoted to high school. In this thesis, I focused on students who failed their initial attempt at the test and retook it the following year. Then, I investigated the relationships between the probability of ultimately becoming eligible for promotion to high school, on the retake of the GFLT, and selected important child and school characteristics, including: student gender, school type, school examination-cohort size, and the socioeconomic level of the schools. To supplement and enrich the descriptive statistical analyses, I also included interviews and focus groups with a small sample of students, parents, and educators at three public-primary schools, in which they discussed their experiences with the GFLT.
In the quantitative analyses, I used data on 15,287 students in 758 public-primary schools, who retook the GFLT in school year 2010/11. I used random-intercepts multilevel modeling to investigate the student recovery rate (probability of ultimately becoming eligible for promotion to high school) as a function of the selected student- and school-level variables. I found that recovery rates were modest, generally showing that 7 to 17 percent of students who had initially failed the GFLT were able to become eligible for promotion. I also found a consistent gender disparity in recovery rates, against boys, and found that students in small schools had lower probabilities of becoming eligible for promotion to high school than did their peers in larger schools, with the effect being particularly pronounced in schools in high-SES districts. Finally, even though no measures of student language were included in the provided administrative datasets that were the basis of my quantitative analyses, my qualitative interviews with participants suggested that students might be underperforming on the GFLT because their first language is Jamaican Creole. This is an ongoing debate in the country.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33052860