International thematic probe: the influence of relative age on learner attainment and development
As part of its commitment to ‘building the evidence base’ for the curriculum in England, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is investigating the issue of ‘summer born’ children or ‘season of birth’ in the international context. It has commissioned an international literature review on the impact of relative age within a year group on learners’ attainment and development. The main focus is on policy, process and outcomes concerning learning (attainment and development) in school.
The key research questions relate to learners in compulsory primary and secondary education in countries for which the literature review identifies available and relevant information.
- To what extent does the age of learners relative to other pupils in their year group affect their attainment and development?
- Does this relative age affect the attainment and development of some groups or types of learners more than others?
- Do certain educational policies and practices, particularly those relating to curriculum and assessment, mediate the effect of relative age on attainment and development?
Impact and outcomes
The research will produce a comparative international analysis on the impact of relative age on learner attainment and development. This will respond to the three key research questions and provide policy recommendations to QCA. It is intended that the report will be published on the International Review of Curriculum and Assessment Frameworks (INCA) Internet Archive (www.inca.org.uk).
The NFER team would also welcome the opportunity of working further with QCA to publish additional articles relating to the research.
Research design and methods
The research comprises three phases:
- a rapid review of existing international research evidence and the production of an initial analytical report of the review findings
- the seeking of additional information to supplement and clarify the international research evidence identified in the initial report
- the production of a final report combining the results of the rapid literature review (phase 1) with the additional information sought from contacts (phase 2) to produce a comparative analysis, which responds to the three research questions and provides policy recommendations to QCA.
The principal audience for the research is QCA. They will use the report to provide evidence for the ‘Rose Review’ of the primary curriculum.
It is expected that the report will later be published on the INCA website. At such time it will be of relevance and interest to the policy makers, educationalists and researchers who are users of the INCA website.
Time scale: August 2008 - November 2008
NFER Project Code: QSB