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ERIC Number: EJ1132416
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 13
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1368-2822
Contribution of Spoken Language and Socio-Economic Background to Adolescents' Educational Achievement at Age 16 Years
Spencer, Sarah; Clegg, Judy; Stackhouse, Joy; Rush, Robert
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, v52 n2 p184-196 Mar-Apr 2017
Background: Well-documented associations exist between socio-economic background and language ability in early childhood, and between educational attainment and language ability in children with clinically referred language impairment. However, very little research has looked at the associations between language ability, educational attainment and socio-economic background during adolescence, particularly in populations without language impairment. Aims: To investigate: (1) whether adolescents with higher educational outcomes overall had higher language abilities; and (2) associations between adolescent language ability, socio-economic background and educational outcomes, specifically in relation to Mathematics, English Language and English Literature GCSE grade. Method & Procedures: A total of 151 participants completed five standardized language assessments measuring vocabulary, comprehension of sentences and spoken paragraphs, and narrative skills and one nonverbal assessment when between 13 and 14 years old. These data were compared with the participants' educational achievement obtained upon leaving secondary education (16 years old). Univariate logistic regressions were employed to identify those language assessments and demographic factors that were associated with achieving a targeted A*-C grade in English Language, English Literature and Mathematics General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) at 16 years. Further logistic regressions were then conducted to examine further the contribution of socio-economic background and spoken language skills in the multivariate models. Results & Outcomes: Vocabulary, comprehension of sentences and spoken paragraphs, and mean length utterance in a narrative task along with socio-economic background contributed to whether participants achieved an A*-C grade in GCSE Mathematics and English Language and English Literature. Nonverbal ability contributed to English Language and Mathematics. The results of multivariate logistic regressions then found that vocabulary skills were particularly relevant to all three GCSE outcomes. Socio-economic background only remained important for English Language, once language assessment scores and demographic information were considered. Conclusions & Implications: Language ability, and in particular vocabulary, plays an important role for educational achievement. Results confirm a need for ongoing support for spoken language ability throughout secondary education and a potential role for speech and language therapy provision in the continuing drive to reduce the gap in educational attainment between groups from differing socio-economic backgrounds.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A