An investigation into statistical modelling of data from longitudinal studies for the study of education attainment and development : a case study using the British cohort study of 1970
Social inequalities in educational attainment are widely reported despite educational reforms aimed at providing equal educational opportunities for all. Variation in attainment between different socio-economic groups is apparent in the early stages of . education, at primary level, and continues through compulsory into further and higher education. Many research studies have investigated the effects of social factors at different points in the education system but there is less research into how such influences develop throughout the school career and into adult life. Much education research now focuses on investigating educational progress and the factors that have an impact on attainment and progression throughout the education system. The research presented here has two related and equally important aims. The first is to investigate appropriate statistical modelling techniques for the analysis of education data, in particular for examining educational attainment and progress. However, progress is a dynamic concept and can only be examined using longitudinal data. The increasing availability of large scale longitudinal data, on a national basis, provides new opportunities to explore the effects of social and other factors on educational progress. Hence the second main aim of this research is to investigate the scope of national longitudinabstudies for examining the changing and developing effects of influential factors, such'as social background and school, on educational attainment and progress. The statistical modelling techniques are applied to data from one such study, the British Cohort Study of 1970, and the analyses provide a case study to illustrate how education data from longitudinal studies can be investigated. The fmdings from the analyses are compared against current and existing research in order to evaluate the potential of data from national birth cohort studies for the investigation and monitoring of socio-economic trends in educational attainment and progression.