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Citation:Willms, J. D., & Somers, M. A. (2001). Family, classroom, and school effects on children's educational outcomes in Latin America. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 12(4), 409-445.

The authors of this study look at family, classroom, and school effects on language and mathematics achievement and the length of time to complete one year of primary school in 13 Latin American countries. Across all countries, the most effective schools seemed to be those with: high levels of school resources; single-grade classrooms; no grouping of students by ability; frequent testing of children; a high level of parental involvement, and a positive classroom climate, especially in discipline. The country with the most successful schools was Cuba, which has uniformly effective schools, relatively fewer social inequities, and "dramatic success" in language and mathematics. Parent involvement significantly affected "time to completion." Children within each classroomÐand, indeed, the entire schoolÐseemed to do better in achievement if parents were more involved. The data are from the Primer Estudio Internacional Comparativo (PEIC) contracted by UNESCO in 1998 to look at relationships between schooling outcomes, family background, and social policy and practices in 13 Latin American countries. Samples of about 100 schools in each country consisting of about 40 pupils in grades 3 and 4 were analyzed. ÒTime to completionÓ was one student outcome of special interest for this study, as an earlier report found that a typical Latin American child in the 1980's took 1.7 years to be promoted to the next grade, an outcome closely tied to achievement. Data on parent involvement were collected by questionnaires given to a parent of each student. Authors conclude that the relationships between school outcomes and family background varies among countries, but, generally, parent involvement is correlated with more positive school outcomes. Though the study does not provide sufficient information to understand why CubaÕs schools succeed in language and mathematics, it does give practitioners some insight into education and community issues present in Latin America.

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