R. Želvys , R. Dukynaitė, A. Jakaitienė
Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), 2021 m. balandžio 25-29 d., Siatlas, JAV. Virtuali
Abstract. Educational quality is one of key priorities indicated in policy documents of national governments as well as international organizations. One of the commonly used indicators of educational quality are student achievements in international large-scale student assessment studies and national school leaving examinations (Somerset, 2011, Kyriakides & Creemers, 2011, Engel & Rutkowski ,2014). School location is often considered as one of the factors which may have impact on educational quality. In countries where regional differences prevail, schools in villages and small settlements are often undersupplied with human and material resources when compared with schools in large towns and cities. However, educational research does not provide clear evidence that rural schools are inferior to urban schools (Reeves & Bylund, 2005), so there is a need for more research on urban-rural differences in other school quality factors (Othman & Muijs, 2013).
General public and policy makers voice a continuous concern about the educational quality of Lithuanian rural schools. A decade ago the Ministry of Education and Science in a policy paper on urban and rural differences stated that in rural regions teachers were less qualified, schools were undersupplied with ICT, offered less extra-curricular activities and support services, school infrastructure was less developed and required renovation. The paper noted differences of student achievement in urban and rural schools during the 2003, 2005 and 2007 national testing of 8th grade students. However, since 2003 the results of students in cities and regional centres remained more or less at the same level while the results of students in small towns and villages improved (MoES, 2011). Differences in quality of urban and rural schools were also indicated in State education strategy for 2013-2022 (MoES, 2014). The aim of our survey was to find out whether implementation of strategic educational goals and other policy measures resulted in diminishing the urban-rural differences in student achievement in Lithuanian schools.
We analyzed the results of five cycles of maturity examinations in mathematics (from 2013-2014 to 2017-2018). The data was provided by the Centre of Information Technologies in Education of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports. Differences in achievements of urban and rural schools were compared with respect to municipalities and according school location in five groups: Vilnius (capital of Lithuania), large cities (Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, Panevezys), cities (15-100 thous. inhabitants), small cities (3-15 thous. inhabitants), rural area (<3 thous. inhabitants). Normality of data distribution was assessed using Shapiro-Wilk test. Wilcoxon test was applied with significance level 0.05.
Results indicate that the median of assessments is statistically signifcantly smaller in rural area compared to the cities. Consequently, if we base our decisions only on the analysis of medians, then the achievements of students in rural areas are lower than in cities. However, seeing the whole distribution of achievements, we cannot say that the situation in the countryside is worse than in the cities. It is not enough to analyze only the characteristics of the center (median/average) when formulating education policy, but it is necessary to see the whole distribution of observations.