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The impact of a selective entry examination on children's feelings as they approach the transition to secondary school

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Abstract

In the current study we examined how different experiences of a selective entry examination influenced children's feelings about themselves, school and intelligence as they approached transition to secondary school. Children were recruited from three English schools that use a selective entry examination to stream students into secondary schools based on ability (98 children aged around 10) and were assessed at two time points. At Time 1 it had recently decided whether children would take the exam, and at Time 2 children had received their exam results. At each time children completed measures of theory of intelligence, locus of control, self-esteem and feelings about the school system. At Time 1, children who intended to take the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who did not. However, they were also more likely to hold a fixed view of intelligence, which has been associated with longer-term negative outcomes. Similarly, at Time 2 children who had passed the exam showed more positive outcomes than those who had failed or had not taken the exam, but again they were more likely to hold a potentially maladaptive fixed view of intelligence. Those who failed the exam were indistinguishable from those who had not taken the exam. These results suggest that passing the selective exam can lead to positive outcomes for children, except in terms of their view of intelligence. However, failing and not being given the opportunity to sit the exam leads to consistently negative outcomes. The potential implications of these results are discussed.

Acceptance Date Mar 30, 2016
Publication Date Sep 12, 2016
Journal British Educational Research Journal
Print ISSN 0141-1926
Publisher Wiley
Pages 945-961
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3242
Keywords transition to secondary school, selective exam, theory of intelligence
Publisher URL https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3242

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