Initial reading and writing skills in childhood education: achievement sample in the Northeast of Brazil for obtaining specific regional performance standards
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ABSTRACT Purpose: the study aims to obtain preliminary normative data for early reading and writing skills of 5-year-old children in a sample from the Northeast of Brazil. It also aims to investigate the effects of the type of school (public vs. private) and the time of assessment (beginning vs. end of the school year), and whether there were significant differences in performance, as compared to those of children from the Southeast of Brazil. Methods: 389 5-year-old children from 17 private and 12 public schools were assessed in the beginning and at the end of the school year, by using the Reading and Writing Test. Each student was individually assessed in the two times of the year. Appropriate statistical tests were applied, adopting a significance level lower than 0.05. Results: the progress in the performance of private school children was stronger than that of their peers from public schools, accentuating the existing learning gap. The comparison with normative data from the Southeast revealed that the public schools in the Northeast outperformed those in all topics of comparison. Private schools in the Southeast had a better performance at the beginning of the year, but were outperformed by those of the Northeast at the end of the year. Conclusion: the differences in performance identified in the samples suggest the need for specific norms by geographical regions of Brazil, and by type of school (public or private). The data presented in this study are preliminary and can be enlarged in future studies.