Lower ambitions in Friesland hamper performance of Frisian schoolchildren
|Date:||September 29, 2009|
Because many schoolchildren at Frisian primary schools perform poorly, they achieve lower-level diplomas at secondary school than schoolchildren in the rest of the country. Less success at school has nothing to do with the intelligence of Frisian children – according to educationalist Hester de Boer it is mainly caused by the low ambitions of both parents and teachers, and related to this, a school advice that is not challenging enough. De Boer will receive her PhD on 12 October 2009 from the University of Groningen.
Hester de Boer investigated the school performance of a group of 20,000 school pupils, 1100 of whom came from Friesland. All these pupils entered the first year of secondary school in 1999 and their school careers were followed in subsequent years. De Boer compared the advice given to Frisian schoolchildren at the end of their primary school careers, how successful they were at school, their exam results and the subjects they chose.
Low advice, low performance
‘With a similar intelligence level, Frisian schoolchildren achieved lower learning results in primary education’, according to De Boer. ‘This is a case of underutilized talent.’ Frisian schoolchildren at the end of primary education thus already have a performance shortfall, as has been revealed by earlier research. But even if this factor is corrected for, it also appears that they are given less ambitious school advice at the end of their primary school careers than schoolchildren in the rest of the country. Frisian schoolchildren are thus sent to schools that are not challenging enough for them.
In secondary school, the educational shortfall of pupils in Friesland luckily does not increase much. However, pupils who are advised to go to a VMBO school later achieve a lower level of education than fellow VMBO pupils elsewhere. According to De Boer, this is directly related to the lower level of education when they leave primary school. Pupils who leave primary school with a HAVO/VWO advice do achieve a comparable final level to fellow pupils in the rest of the country. De Boer emphasizes that using the Frisian language has no influence whatsoever on how successful Frisian schoolchildren are at school.
More inclined to go down a level
De Boer’s research has also revealed that Frisian schoolchildren are more quickly inclined to move to an easier type of school if their school performance is not good. De Boer: ‘They more quickly choose to go down a level, for example from VWO to HAVO. However, staying down a year would often be a better option for their final result.’ Among other things, this means that in Friesland fewer schoolchildren (3.6 percent fewer) take the VWO final examination.
However, the Frisian school population also managed to get higher final examination marks. De Boer says that this is partially due to the fact that so many pupils in Friesland are at schools that are below their abilities. This also implies that they could possibly have been able to cope with a more difficult level of education, states De Boer.
In Friesland, VMBO pupils also choose the economics sector more often than technology, even though a more scientific choice is considered to offer more perspectives. De Boer found no differences in the profiles chosen by HAVO and VWO pupils.
Many of the results can be explained by the lower level of ambition of both parents and teachers, says De Boer. A parental questionnaire concerning the expectations of parents for the school careers of their children provided a clear indication of this lack of ambition. In response to the question of which level their child should be able to finish, Frisian parents in general gave a lower educational level than fathers and mothers in the rest of the country.
De Boer’s research makes clear that educational shortfalls are created early in the school career. This provides policymakers with a handle to tackle the problem, in De Boer’s opinion. Both parents and teachers must be made more aware that their lack of ambition may have far-reaching effects on educational performance, advises De Boer. ‘Due to the low average educational level, there is also a lack of role models,’ explains De Boer. ‘People are insufficiently aware that good education can lead to a better social position.’
Hester de Boer (Harlingen, 1979) studied Theory of Education in Groningen and conducted her PhD research at GION, Groningen Institute for Educational Research, which also financed the research. Her supervisors at the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences were Prof. M.P.C. van der Werf and Prof. R.J. Bosker. The title of her PhD thesis is ‘Schoolsucces van Friese leerlingen in het voortgezet onderwijs’ [School success of Frisian schoolchildren in secondary education]. De Boer will continue to work for GION after her PhD ceremony.
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|Last modified:||November 01, 2012 14:31|