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Roland Hegedűs Institute of Special Education, Faculty of Pedagogy, Catholic University of Károly Eszterházy, Hungary

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Krisztina Sebestyén Institute of Applied Human Sciences, University of Nyíregyháza, Hungary

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Abstract

There is an increased interest in exploring the interaction between knowledge of foreign languages, Reading and Mathematics and correlation of students' achievement in Hungary (e. g. Szirmai, 2003; Garami, 2009; Hegedűs & Sebestyén, 2019). Special learner groups are rarely put in the focus of research, therefore in our paper, we examine achievements in Reading and Mathematics of students with learning disorder or integration, learning and behavioural difficulties (ILBD). We examine data in different types of classes, for example, in special classes with a high number of foreign language lessons. We analyse the data of National Competency Measurement (NCM) of 2019 in the 10th grade (N = 83,751) with SPSS. In this database, there are 3,029 students with learning disorder and 4,284 students with ILBD. 5.9% of the first group and 9% of the latter group learn in classes with a high number of foreign language lessons per week. According to our results, these students have better competence results from Reading and Mathematics than students who learn in classes with “normal” curriculum, and lower achievements than students in classes with a special curriculum.

Abstract

There is an increased interest in exploring the interaction between knowledge of foreign languages, Reading and Mathematics and correlation of students' achievement in Hungary (e. g. Szirmai, 2003; Garami, 2009; Hegedűs & Sebestyén, 2019). Special learner groups are rarely put in the focus of research, therefore in our paper, we examine achievements in Reading and Mathematics of students with learning disorder or integration, learning and behavioural difficulties (ILBD). We examine data in different types of classes, for example, in special classes with a high number of foreign language lessons. We analyse the data of National Competency Measurement (NCM) of 2019 in the 10th grade (N = 83,751) with SPSS. In this database, there are 3,029 students with learning disorder and 4,284 students with ILBD. 5.9% of the first group and 9% of the latter group learn in classes with a high number of foreign language lessons per week. According to our results, these students have better competence results from Reading and Mathematics than students who learn in classes with “normal” curriculum, and lower achievements than students in classes with a special curriculum.

Introduction

The knowledge of foreign languages is becoming a more and more basic competence (not only) in Hungary, the development of which is already mandatory in public education not only for typical but for atypical 1 students too. Significant correlation can be shown between students' achievements of foreign languages and other subjects (Szirmai 2003; Garami 2009; Hegedűs & Sebestyén, 2019), as well as between the learning problems and students' achievement (Hegedűs, 2021, 2022; Kövesdi et al., 2017). The aim of our paper is to link these two research fields, thereby expanding the Hungarian literature in connection with achievements of students with learning disorder or ILBD, who come from classes with different curricula.

Introduction of the analysed students' groups and training types in the rules

Currently the MHR Decree 32/2012 (X. 8.) regulates the education of students with learning disorder in Hungary. Among other things, this decree defines the subcategories of special educational needs (see e. g. Hegedűs, 2021 about typifying), which include learning disorders too. Regarding learning and behaviour problems, special learning disabilities include (1) dyslexia, (2) dysorthography, (3) dyscalculia, (4) dysgraphia and dyspraxia, due to the combination above, (5) mixed specific learning disorders, (6) hyperactivity and attention deficit, moreover (7) disorders of socio-adaptive processes (MHR Decree 32/2012 [X. 8.]).

Hungarian practice, unlike foreign ones, distinguishes another category, called integration, learning and behavioural difficulties (ILBD) 2 , from students with special educational needs 3 (Act CXC 2011 4. §). The problems of children in this group are not caused by neurological or nervous system developmental disorders, but there are pedagogical, psychological or environmental factors in the background of difficulties (Bíró, 2020; Mesterházi & Szekeres, 2019; Pinczésné Palásthy, 2018). In the case of children with special educational needs (SEN), the committee of experts decides whether they can be educated in an integrated way with the majority children in regular classes and what kind of conditions are needed for them. Children with ILBD are always educated in an integrated way together with majority children but the committee of experts makes recommendations about conditions in their cases too. Conditions depend on the problems of the children (Act CXC 2011; Bíró, 2020).

In the Hungarian educational system, students can complete secondary school education in more (special) training types or groups. There are not only classes with „normal” curriculum, but the National Core Curriculum gives an opportunity to increase the number of lessons in different subjects, so there are separate groups including e. g. Mathematics, Biology, Foreign languages (Government Decree 110/2012 [VI. 4.]). 4

Bilingual and language preparatory trainings ensure more foreign language lessons for students than classes with a regular foreign language curriculum. Bilingual trainings were launched in 1987 in Hungary, and they aimed at achieving effective foreign language teaching. Its method is that intensive foreign language teaching takes place in the first year, and then from the second year onwards, teaching goes on in two languages (Vámos, 1993), one of which is usually the pupil's mother tongue, while the teaching of some subjects (e. g. History, Mathematics, Physics, Geography and/or Biology) takes place in a foreign language intensively studied in the first year (Bartha, 2000; Medgyes, 2011).

The language preparatory training, as grounded in bilingual trainings, was introduced in 2004 in our country. It is a secondary school type with 4+1, 6+1 or 8+1 years. In the first school year, the students learn a foreign language in 11–18 lessons, after that the weekly number of the lessons will be 5 in the next grades (Act LXI 2003). This training type was established primarily for disadvantaged students with the aim to help them gain a higher level of language skills or pass a language exam, prepare them for the school leaving exam on a higher level or possibly for admission to higher education in a foreign language without having to take extracurricular lessons. Achieving a high level of language skills has been of interest not only to disadvantaged families but also to families with better socioeconomic background, so there are many more schools providing increased language training than originally envisaged (Öveges, 2018).

Ethnic language teaching (e. g. German, Slovakian, Croatian) should be mentioned as well as it also provides students with a higher level of language proficiency compared to classes following the normal curriculum. The MHR Decree 17/2013 (III. 1.) mentions four educational institutions: (1) institutions of traditional language teaching, (2) institutions of augmented language teaching, (3) institutions with native speaker teaching form and (4) institution with bilingual language teaching form. In the first two types, the aim is to develop active language use, vocabulary and communication skills. While in the remaining two, the aim is to develop oral and written communication skills based on existing language skills, and through these to gain cultural development.

Theoretical frame of study: some elements of factors influencing students' achievement

There is an extensive literature on the study of student achievement. These points to connections with family background, which suggests that students with higher socioeconomical background – whose parents hold a higher level of education, have a better financial background – are more successful in their studies. Higher student achievement may be due to several factors related to the family background, such as children attending better school composition (e.g. better achievement, better teachers), parents' ability to pay for private lessons due to their greater financial resources, etc. (Blossfeld, Blossfeld, & Blossfeld, 2019; Coleman et al., 1966; Hegedűs, 2020; Pusztai, 2009). That means too that the school system conserves in the most cases the social strata (Bourdieu, 1983; Gogolin, 2014). Parents' educational qualifications are motivating for their children because the children of the more highly educated parents mostly attend secondary grammar schools and they set higher educational aims for themselves (Heisig, Elbers, & Solga, 2020; Sebestyén, 2021). Socioeconomical background plays an important role in students' achievements in Reading, but strong correlations can also be shown with the results in Mathematics and foreign languages (Hegedűs & Sebestyén, 2019). The knowledge of the mother language – or if the language of education is different, the knowledge of the language of education – affects the processing of the curriculum, the understanding of the tasks, and thus the student's achievement. Thus, the socioeconomical background has effect on foreign language knowledge, too (Hegedűs & Sebestyén, 2019; Nikolov & Csapó, 2018; Röhner, 2013; Rösch, 2013).

A part of students' achievement surveys refers to maintainers of the educational institutions. It was verified that children with higher socioeconomic background tended to go to denominational schools, especially secondary grammar schools, which reinforces each other's effects and improves student achievement (Barta, 2009). According to some researchers, the added value of the denominational institutions lies in the background of the better achievements (Pusztai, 2009), while others think that the selection mechanism of the admission procedures in these institutions is behind the better achievements (Elder & Jepsen, 2014; Weiß, 2012). The achievements of students in state as well as foundation institutions lag behind that of students in denominational schools. This seems to be due to the weaker family background of the students and the weaker selection for admission in these institutions. The proportion of students who learn in vocational schools is also high in state schools, which can be a reason for students' lower achievements (Varga, 2015).

Special groups – e. g. students with special educational needs – rarely become the focus of research, which means that we have less information about their achievements, making it more difficult to improve their situation (LeRoy, Samuel, Deluca, & Evans, 2019). The achievement of SEN – including learning disorder – and ILBD students perform less well than students with typical developmental disabilities (Kövesdi et al., 2017). This can be explained only by their learning problems, but by other factors, too. For example, previous research (Hegedűs, 2021; Palardy, 2008; Perry & McConney, 2010) found that the achievement of children with learning disorder is significantly influenced by socioeconomical background, because less advantaged family backgrounds are even more strongly associated with weaker student achievement in the case of children with learning disorders. The achievement of students with ILBD can be very similar (Bíró, 2020), therefore their family background is likely to be decisive for them, too. According to the maintainers of educational institutions, in contrast to typical students, students with ILBD do not have the highest student achievement in denominational institutions. The reason for this can be, for example, that there is a smaller proportion of students with ILBD because of the strictest admission process used by this maintainer (Hegedűs, 2021, 2022).

Subject preference also has an effect on student achievement because students primarily choose subjects they would like to study at a higher level (Csíkos, 2012). According to the results of Csapó (2000), secondary school students prefer foreign languages the most, followed by Hungarian grammar and Hungarian literature, while Mathematics is the least popular. The level of popularity decreases continuously with advancing age, but not in the same way in all the subjects because the decline in foreign languages and Hungarian literature is smaller than in Mathematics, for example (Borsodi, 2020). Chrappán (2017) came to a similar conclusion, although she observed differences based on the type of secondary schools. While the order of preference set by secondary vocational school students corresponds to the results of Csapó’s (2000), secondary grammar school students still prefer Mathematics to Hungarian grammar or Hungarian literature.

Hypotheses

Based on the literature in the theoretical frame of our paper, we analyse the Reading and Mathematics achievements of students with ILBD and learning disabilities taking into account their family background and the maintainers in different class types. We pay special attention to students in both groups (with ILBD, with SEN) that learn in classes with foreign language curriculum. Furthermore, we also look at whether there is a difference between the achievement of the different groups according to their preference of certain subjects. In connection with our research, we formulated the following hypotheses:

  1. ILBD students have less advantageous socioeconomical family background than majority children.

  2. The type of maintainer and group of the class have effect on the competence results of students with ILBD.

  3. The family background of students with learning disorders is worse than that of majority children.

  4. The type of maintainer and group of the class have effect on the competence results of students with learning disorders.

  5. According to the group of the class and the characteristics of the child, there is a difference in subject preferences and in the aims for further learning.

Database and methods

In our research, we analysed the student database of the 10th grade National Competency Measurement (NCM) of 2019, which provided a complete polling for the given grade. There are several subcategories of SEN in the NCM database, therefore we created different variables for children with learning disabilities. These included children with (1) determined reading disorder (dyslexia), (2) written expression disorder (dysgraphia), (3) arithmetic ability disorder (dyscalculia), (4) school abilities disorder, (5) other school abilities disorder, (6) nondetermined developmental disorder of school abilities, (7) specific developmental abnormality of motor functions and (8) mixed specific developmental disorder. We also combined students in one variable with integration, learning (writing, reading, counting) and behavioural difficulties.

The database contains data on a total of 83,751 students, of which 4,284 are students with ILBD and 3,029 are students with learning disorder. Based on the variables we created three groups according to the specialization class the students attend. Normal, bilingual, and ethnic curricula as well as a curriculum with an increased number of language lessons were originally distinguished in the NCM database. By combining the bilingual and ethnic classes, we created the following groups: (1) students with normal curriculum (normal curriculum), (2) students with a record of intensive foreign language learning experience in public education (intensive FLL), (3) students with an increased number of lessons – in specific subjects listed in the group of the Government Decree – compared to students with normal curriculum (with an increased number of lessons). Students in classes with normal curriculum have the basic number of lessons in all subjects. Students in the intensive FLL group are known to have more language lessons than students with normal curriculum. Students who indicated that they had received preparatory training after the eighth grade were also included in the intensive FLL group. In the classes with an increased number of lessons, students have one subject which they study in more lessons 5 than the basic number. Unfortunately, it was no clear from the data of NCM which subject was taught in an increased number of lessons is in each class. Thus, there are (1) 37,888 students in the classes with normal curriculum, (2) 11,011 students in the intensive FLL classes, while there are (3) 12,332 students in the classes with a curriculum that provides for an increased number of lessons in specific subjects. The creators of NCM classified all students who learn in some classes as the group with an increased number of lessons. Therefore, students with an increased number of language classes were included here, but we could not separate them from other classes with an increased number of lessons in other subjects – this is one of the limitations of our research. Based on the variables of different groups, SEN/ILBD, the number of students with learning disabilities in the normal curriculum class is 1,854 (4.9%), among the students in the intensive FLL class 178 (1.6%), and 138 (1.1%) of those in classes with an increased number of lessons.

The number and proportion of students with ILBD in the classes with different specialisations are the following: 2,341 students (6.2%) in classes with normal curriculum, 384 students (3.5%) in intensive FLL classes and 328 students (2.7%) in classes with an increased number of lessons. There were several categories of maintainers in the variable, therefore we merged them into the following groups: (1) state, (2) church, (3) foundation and other categories. The second analysis of the data was performed using the SPSS program (SPSS 19.0) to produce crosstabs, two- and three-dimensioned ANOVA analysis. To examine the family background, we used a central variable created by the Office of Education from several variables. 6

Results of students with integration, learning and behavioural difficulties

The family background index consists of several variables and the situation of students can be interpreted in a more complex way with the help of this index. According to the group and ILBD, the students with ILBD from classes with normal curriculum have the smallest family background index (–0.304), while the students without ILBD in classes with an increased number of lessons have the highest (0.540). The family background index is the smallest in classes with normal curriculum (–0.209), students from classes with intensive FLL have higher results (0.301), while the index-value of students from classes with an increased number of lessons have the highest results (0.524). In all three groups, the family background of the students without ILBD is higher, suggesting that these students with ILBD live in poorer family conditions. The family background determines the extent to which parents have access to extracurricular, developmental activities (e. g. developmental activities, speech therapy) due to their financial situation. This is important because these activities can help children to catch up with their peers. Family background and ILBD are dominant in enrolment in groups because, according to the data, most students with ILBD study in classes with normal curriculum (2,101 people) while a lot fewer of them (296 people) study in classes with an increased number of lessons (Table 1).

Table 1.

Family background index of students with and without ILBD based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group ILBD Average N
With normal curriculum no –0.203 32,815
yes 0.304 2,101
average –0.209 34,916
Intensive FLL no 0.310 9,833
yes 0.055 342
average 0.301 10,175
With an increased number of lessons no 0.524 11,253
yes 0.540 296
average 0.524 11,549
Total no 0.042 53,901
yes –0.168 2,739
average 0.032 56,640

Mathematics' and Reading's achievement is determined by group and whether the student is struggling with ILBD or not. Differences between groups appear in the results of Mathematics and Reading because students with ILBD in classes with normal curriculum have the weakest results. For those in normal curriculum classes, Mathematics results are higher than Reading results, and there is a significant difference between Mathematics and Reading achievement of students with and without ILBD, too. The results of students from intensive FLL classes are higher than those of students in classes with normal curriculum. There is a difference when it comes to Mathematics (98 points) and Reading (111 points). The difference is lower in the case of students with ILBD because it is 42 points in Mathematics and 56 points in Reading. Students with ILBD have better achievements in Reading in intensive FLL classes and classes with an increased number of lessons, while students without ILBD are better at Mathematics. Students achieve the best results in classes with an increased number of lessons because students without ILBD have higher scores (62 points in Mathematics and 57 points in Reading) than students from intensive FLL classes. For ILBD students, the difference is 103 points in Mathematics, and it is 128 points in Reading in the case of the students from intensive FLL classes. The largest difference is between students with and without ILBD in intensive FLL classes because the difference is 192 points in Mathematics and 183 points in Reading. There are differences in the results of Mathematics and Reading based on the group and whether the student has ILBD or not. This can be explained by the family background, the characteristics of the group and whether and what type of difficulties the children have (Table 2).

Table 2.

Reading and Mathematics achievement of students with and without ILBD based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group ILBD Mathematics Reading
With normal curriculum no average 1,625 1,611
N 35,137 35,149
yes average 1,489 1,484
N 2,290 2,301
Intensive FLL no average 1,723 1,723
N 10,518 10,523
yes average 1,531 1,540
N 372 378
With an increased number of lessons no average 1,785 1,780
N 11,898 11,899
yes average 1,634 1,668
N 319 322
Total no average 1,676 1,667
N 57,553 57,571
yes average 1,509 1,511
N 2,981 3,001
Total average 1,668 1,659
N 60,534 60,572

We analysed the groups based on the maintainers as to what kind of differences can be found in achievements concerning Mathematics and Reading. For each grade, we underlined the lowest values and bolded the highest values. All our data show significant differences by ANOVA. ILBD students have the lowest achievement in classes with normal curriculum in state institutions (1,481 points, 1,474 points), while the highest results are in denominational institutions (1,669 points, 1,665 point). In the case of intensive FLL groups, the lowest average is seen among students with ILBD studying in foundation and other institutions (1,487 points, 1,524 points), which is higher than the lowest value found in classes with normal curriculum. In the classes with an increased number of lessons non-ILBD students achieve best in state institutions (1,794 points, 1,786 points), and their values are the highest in the entire table. The lowest averages are for ILBD students studying at a foundation institution (1,621 points, 1,571 points), which, however, are considered to be the highest within the category of ILBD. Students attending denominational schools perform better in the normal curriculum classes than in schools run by the other two maintainers, while those in the intensive FLL classes and in classes with an increased number of lessons in state institutions have the best results, and the weakest results are found in foundation schools. The results of students in intensive FLL classes can be considered a middling achievement level compared to the two other groups, which can be related to the family background as was discussed above. The achievements of ILBD and non-ILBD students in denominational institutions are lower than in schools belonging to the other two maintainers. This is thought to be related to the admission process of the institutions (Elder & Jepsen, 2014; Weiß, 2012). The low results of the foundation schools and other categories can be explained by the fact that according to a previous research finding (Hegedűs, 2020), many students with ILBD are concentrated in foundation institutions (Table 3).

Table 3.

Reading and Mathematics achievements of students with and without ILBD based on groups and maintainers (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group Maintainer ILBD Mathematics Reading
With normal curriculum state no average 1,616 1,601
N 27,895 27,903
yes average 1,481 1,474
N 1910 1914
church no average 1,669 1,665
N 6,050 6,052
yes average 1,537 1,538
N 294 299
foundation and others no average 1,589 1,586
N 1,192 1,194
yes average 1,482 1,527
N 86 88
Intensive FLL state no average 1,731 1,728
N 8,243 8,243
yes average 1,533 1,530
N 288 291
church no average 1,697 1706
N 1,547 1,550
yes average 1,536 1,594
N 59 61
foundation and others no average 1,690 1,699
N 728 730
yes average 1,487 1,524
N 25 26
With an increased number of lessons state no average 1,794 1,786
N 9,199 9,200
yes average 1,636 1,674
N 235 236
church no average 1756 1767
N 2,464 2,464
yes average 1,626 1,657
N 79 81
foundation and others no average 1,710 1,702
N 235 235
yes average 1,621 1,571
N 5 5

We analysed students' subject preferences based on groups and ILBD, according to which, we found significant differences by ANOVA: students in all three groups preferred the foreign language the most, while Mathematics was preferred the least. There is a correlation between the intensive FLL class and foreign language preference because the average is the highest here (4.13). In general, it is true that students with ILBD prefer their subjects less than non-ILBD students. However, there is an exception because ILBD students (3.61) prefer Hungarian literature more in classes with an increased number of lessons than students without ILBD (3.53). The lower subject preferences of ILBD students can be explained by the fact that these students suffer more from learning problems, furthermore, they are less committed to education due to integration, learning and behavioural problems. The difference between the groups is the smallest in relation to the Hungarian grammar subject preference because averages are between 3.03 and 3.20, while in other subjects the difference is almost 1.0. In the examined groups, Mathematics is usually the least preferred subject, with the exception of non-ILBD students with an increased number of lessons because Mathematics (3.27) is preferred more here than Hungarian grammar (3.16). The results can be explained by the fact that students with intensive FLL classes are committed to language learning, while those in classes with an increased number of lessons may prefer the subjects according to the group. Students purposefully choose the group, the subject they prefer the most (Table 4).

Table 4.

Subject preference of students with and without ILBD based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Groups ILBD Hungarian grammar Hungarian literature Mathematics Foreign language
With normal curriculum no average 3.12 3.33 2.94 3.62
N 33,309 31,920 33,015 33,098
yes average 3.06 3.25 2.70 3.29
N 2,149 2018 2,107 2,127
Intensive FLL no average 3.20 3.51 3.12 4.13
N 9,965 9,825 9,830 9,903
yes average 3.05 3.35 2.66 3.68
N 363 353 343 348
With an increased number of lessons no average 3.16 3.53 3.27 4.08
N 11,339 11,301 11,224 11,291
yes average 3.03 3.61 2.87 3.73
N 307 308 282 300

Table 5 shows the learning outcomes of ILBD and non-ILDB students by groups, and the values below the average for that subgroup are marked in underlined and those above average are marked in bold. All our data are significant by ANOVA in Table 5 7 , too. In all classes, ILBD students have lower study aims than non-ILBD students. A comparison of the groups shows that students have the weakest plans in classes with normal curriculum, while those in classes with an increased number of lessons have the strongest plans. In case of classes with normal curriculum, 26% of students with ILBD plan to an admission into the higher education, compared to 43% of students without ILBD. In the intensive FLL classes, 48% of ILBD students plan to get a higher education degree, compared to 75% of students without ILBD. In classes with an increased number of lessons, 73% of students with ILBD plan to study at a higher level, compared to 88% of students without ILBD. It can be seen from the aims that students from classes with an increased number of lessons would like to continue their studies in higher education, while those with normal curriculum want to learn a trade or pass the school-leaving exam and do vocational training. PhD training was marked by many students, but they may not know exactly what it means. It is possible that they were identified with medical or legal training and not with an academic degree. The choice of higher aims is driven by a better family background, which explains the university related aims of students in classes with an increased number of lessons.

Table 5.

Learning aims of students with and without ILBD (ANOVA sig. = 0.000) 7

Group ILBD 8 classes Voc. school School-leaving exam School-leaving e.+ voc. BA MA PhD Total
With normal curriculum no N 415 3,734 4,511 10,275 6,038 6,474 2,169 33,616
row% 1.2% 11.1% 13.4% 30.6% 18.0% 19.3% 6.5% 100.0%
yes N 47 400 427 746 290 217 61 2,188
row% 2.1% 18.3% 19.5% 34.1% 13.3% 9.9% 2.8% 100.0%
ave-rage N 462 4,134 4,938 11,021 6,328 6,691 2,230 35,804
row% 1.3% 11.5% 13.8% 30.8% 17.7% 18.7% 6.2% 100.0%
Intensive FLL no N 110 226 486 1,565 2,149 4,097 1,364 9,997
row% 1.1% 2.3% 4.9% 15.7% 21.5% 41.0% 13.6% 100.0%
yes N 11 37 54 84 88 62 23 359
row% 3.1% 10.3% 15.0% 23.4% 24.5% 17.3% 6.4% 100.0%
ave-rage N 121 263 540 1,649 2,237 4,159 1,387 10,356
row% 1.2% 2.5% 5.2% 15.9% 21.6% 40.2% 13.4% 100.0%
With an increased number of lessons no N 48 17 171 1,098 2,348 5,600 2043 11,325
row% 0.4% 0.2% 1.5% 9.7% 20.7% 49.4% 18.0% 100.0%
yes N 6 1 8 65 78 117 29 304
row% 2.0% 0.3% 2.6% 21.4% 25.7% 38.5% 9.5% 100.0%
ave-rage N 54 18 179 1,163 2,426 5,717 2072 11,629
row% 0.5% 0.2% 1.5% 10.0% 20.9% 49.2% 17.8% 100.0%
Total no N 573 3,977 5,168 12,938 10,535 16,171 5,576 54,938
row% 1.0% 7.2% 9.4% 23.6% 19.2% 29.4% 10.1% 100.0%
yes N 64 438 489 895 456 396 113 2,851
row% 2.2% 15.4% 17.2% 31.4% 16.0% 13.9% 4.0% 100.0%
ave-rage N 637 4,415 5,657 13,833 10,991 16,567 5,689 57,789
row% 1.1% 7.6% 9.8% 23.9% 19.0% 28.7% 9.8% 100.0%

Results of students with learning disorder

Our significant results by ANOVA show that students with learning disorder have less advantaged family backgrounds than those without learning disorder. The family background of students is the least favourable in classes with normal curriculum, which is 0.166 lower than that of students with learning disorder (Table 6). The family background of students without learning disorder (0.306) is over the average of the database (0.032) in intensive FLL classes, while the average of students with learning disorder (0.005) is a bit below the average of the database. The best family background in both groups can be found in classes with an increased number of lessons because the average of typical students is 0.526, which is 0.107 less than the average of students with learning disorder. Based on the family background, the biggest difference can be found in relation to students with intensive FLL classes because the family background index of students with typical development is 0.306, while that of the other group is 0.005. The explanation for the differences in the family background by groups is that each accepts school applications – to a different extent though – on the basis of the previous achievements of the children, which are greatly influenced by the family background. Therefore, it is a kind of self-stimulating process.

Table 6.

Family background index of students with and without learning disorder based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group Learning disorder Average N
With normal curriculum no −0.202 33,249
yes 0.368 1,667
average −0.209 34,916
Intensive FLL no 0.306 10,017
yes 0.005 158
average 0.301 10,175
With an increased number of lessons no 0.526 11,417
yes 0.419 132
average 0.524 11,549
Total no 0.043 54,683
yes −0.285 1,957
average 0.032 56,640

We analysed the achievements of students with learning disorder in Reading and Mathematics based on the different groups compared to the results of majority students and we found significant results by ANOVA again (Table 7). The lowest results in Reading (1,438 point) and Mathematics (1,465 points) can be found among students with learning disorder in the normal curriculum group, while the highest results are found in groups with an increased number of lessons by students with typical development (1,782 points, 1,779 points). For students in an intensive FLL group, both competency results for both groups are between the group with normal curriculum and an increased number of lessons. When analysing the differences between the students with and without learning disorder, the smallest differences are among these two groups in classes with normal curriculum (Mathematics 159 point, Reading 174 points). Of these, the differences are somewhat bigger in the group with an increased number of lessons, where the difference is 166 points in Mathematics and 176 points in Reading. The biggest differences can be seen in the intensive FLL group because the differences between the two groups is 237 points in Mathematics, and 257 points in Reading. This may be due to the large difference in the family background as can be seen in Table 6. Students' results of students with and without learning disorder in all groups are better at Mathematics than Reading but the differences are bigger in the case of students with learning disorder. This may be explained by the fact that family background has a greater effect on Reading results (Hegedűs, 2020). Furthermore, fewer students with dyscalculia can be found within the group.

Table 7.

Reading and Mathematics achievements of students with and without learning disorder based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Groups Learning disorder Mathematics Reading
With normal curriculum no average 1,624 1,612
N 35,605 35,626
yes average 1,465 1,438
N 1822 1824
Intensive FLL no average 1721 1720
N 10,717 10,726
yes average 1,484 1,463
N 173 175
With an increased number of lessons no average 1,782 1,779
N 12,079 12,083
yes average 1,616 1,603
N 138 138
Total no average 1,674 1,667
N 58,401 58,435
yes average 1,477 1,451
N 2,133 2,137
total average 1,668 1,659
N 60,534 60,572

Within the subgroups, we examined what kind of differences of achievement can be found in Mathematics and Reading according to the maintainers of the educational institutions, which show significant differences by ANOVA. We highlighted the lowest values by underlined and the highest values in bold in Table 8. Students with learning disorder have the weakest achievement in classes with normal curriculum in foundation and other institutions (1,451 points, 1,447 points), while students with typical development have the highest average in denominational schools (1,671 points, 1,666 points). The differences are much bigger in the case of the intensive FLL group because the results of majority children studying in state institutions are the best (1,729 points, 1,725 points), while students with learning disorder, studying in foundation and other institutions, have the worst result (1,382 points, 1,371 points). In the case of the intensive FLL group, it is important to mention that students with learning disorder in denominational institutions are 71 points better in Mathematics and 86 points better at Reading than students in public institutions. This was not typical for those in classes with normal curriculum. The highest values can be found in the group of majority children (1,792 points, 1,785 points) in groups with an increased number of lessons in state institutions. Students with learning disorder have the lowest values (1,257 points, 1,202 points) in the same group in foundation and other institutions. However, it is important to note that only two people have results in the latter group. Students with learning disorder achieve the best in these groups with an increased number of lessons in denominational institutions (1,622 points, 1,623 points). The results can be explained by the dominant role of the family background and the admission process, but further research is needed as to why those with learning disabilities perform better in the language department of institutions maintained by the Church rather than in public institutions.

Table 8.

Reading and Mathematics achievement of students with and without learning disorder based on class groups and maintainers (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group Maintainer Learning disorder Mathematics Reading
With normal curriculum state no average 1,616 1,601
N 28,247 28,259
yes average 1,467 1,434
N 1,558 1,558
church no average 1,671 1,666
N 6,126 6,133
yes average 1,460 1,461
N 218 218
foundation and others no average 1,586 1,587
N 1,232 1,234
yes average 1,451 1,447
N 46 48
Intensive FLL state no average 1,729 1,725
N 8,399 8,402
yes average 1,481 1,451
N 132 132
church no average 1,693 1705
N 1,580 1,583
yes average 1,552 1,565
N 26 28
foundation and others no average 1,689 1,700
N 738 741
yes average 1,382 1,371
N 15 15
With an increased number of lessons state no average 1,792 1,785
N 9,336 9,338
yes average 1,621 1,604
N 98 98
church no average 1754 1766
N 2,505 2,507
yes average 1,622 1,623
N 38 38
foundation and others no average 1,712 1,703
N 238 238
yes average 1,257 1,202
N 2 2

The subject preference of students with and without learning disorder is characterised by the fact that Mathematics and Hungarian grammar are the least preferred subjects, while foreign languages and Hungarian literature are among the most popular. There is a significant difference by ANOVA in subject preference depending on whether the student has a learning disorder or not, because Foreign language is the most preferred (3.81) among students with typical developmental process, while Hungarian literature is the most preferred by students with learning disorder (3.25). In analyses based on groups, the average results of students with learning disorder are the lowest in all cases. The lowest average is characteristic in Mathematics in the student group with normal curriculum (2.81) and intensive FLL (2.94), while in the group of an increased number of lessons Hungarian grammar has the lowest average (2.86). With respect to following normal curriculum, the difference between the two groups is the smallest among students who learn in classes with normal curriculum (usually 0.1–0.2), with the exception of foreign language with a value of 0.49. In the case of an intensive FLL group, the subject differences fall between two and three tenths, with the exception of the foreign language again, because here the difference between the two groups is the highest (0.81). The difference is more meaningful between the two groups in classes with an increased number of lessons than in the other two groups. Furthermore, there is a great difference in foreign language as well (0.75). The preference for Foreign language is outstanding for students with typical development, while it is not necessarily true for students with learning disorder. This may be due to the fact that they have many difficulties with the subject depending on the type of learning disorder (Table 9).

Table 9.

Subject preference of students with and without learning disorder based on groups (ANOVA sig. = 0.000)

Group Learning disorder Hungarian grammar Hungarian literature Mathematics Foreign language
With normal curriculum no average 3.12 3.33 2.93 3.62
N 33,758 32,376 33,457 33,591
yes average 3.07 3.24 2.81 3.13
N 1,700 1,562 1,665 1,634
Intensive FLL no average 3.20 3.51 3.11 4.12
N 10,165 10,024 10,015 10,100
yes average 2.99 3.24 2.94 3.31
N 163 154 158 151
With an increased number of lessons no average 3.16 3.54 3.26 4.08
N 11,517 11,477 11,384 11,465
yes average 2.86 3.32 2.88 3.33
N 129 132 122 126
Total no average 3.14 3.41 3.03 3.81
N 55,440 53,877 54,856 55,156
yes average 3.05 3.25 2.82 3.16
N 1,992 1,848 1,945 1,911

In Table 10, significant differences by ANOVA are summarised in relation to students' intention to pursue further studies. The values below the average of the given subgroup are marked by underlining and those above the average are in bold. In all groups, students with learning disorder set lower aims than students with normal development. A comparison of the groups shows that students have the lowest aims in classes with normal curriculum, while students have the highest aims in classes with an increased number of lessons. 19% of students with learning disorder plan an admission into the higher education in the group with normal curriculum, compared to 44% of those with typical development. 38% of the students with learning disorder have set the goal of earning a higher education degree in the group of intensive FLL, compared to 76% of the majority students. 66% of the students with learning disorder plan to study at a higher level on group with an increased number of lessons, compared to 88% of the majority students. In the case of study aims, the same pattern can be seen as in the comparison of the responses of ILBD and non-ILBD students: students' aim is merely to pass the school-leaving exam in the group with normal curriculum, while in the other two groups the aim is to go on to higher education. On the other hand, students with learning disorder set much lower aims than majority children. The reasons can be explained by family background and learning failures, too.

Table 10.

Learning aims of students with and without learning disorder (ANOVA sig. = 0.000) 8

Group Learning disorder 8 classes voc. school school-leaving exam school-leaving e. + voc. BA MA PhD Total
With normal curriculum no N 400 3,661 4,562 10,516 6,141 6,591 2,183 34,054
row% 1.2% 10.8% 13.4% 30.9% 18.0% 19.4% 6.4% 100.0%
yes N 62 473 376 505 187 100 47 1750
row% 3.5% 27.0% 21.5% 28.9% 10.7% 5.7% 2.7% 100.0%
ave-rage N 462 4,134 4,938 11,021 6,328 6,691 2,230 35,804
row% 1.3% 11.5% 13.8% 30.8% 17.7% 18.7% 6.2% 100.0%
Intensive FLL no N 111 236 511 1,611 2,208 4,133 1,379 10,189
row% 1.1% 2.3% 5.0% 15.8% 21.7% 40.6% 13.5% 100.0%
yes N 10 27 29 38 29 26 8 167
row% 6.0% 16.2% 17.4% 22.8% 17.4% 15.6% 4.8% 100.0%
ave-rage N 121 263 540 1,649 2,237 4,159 1,387 10,356
row% 1.2% 2.5% 5.2% 15.9% 21.6% 40.2% 13.4% 100.0%
With an increased number of lessons no N 53 16 177 1,126 2,397 5,669 2064 11,502
row% 0.5% 0.1% 1.5% 9.8% 20.8% 49.3% 17.9% 100.0%
yes N 1 2 2 37 29 48 8 127
row% 0.8% 1.6% 1.6% 29.1% 22.8% 37.8% 6.3% 100.0%
ave-rage N 54 18 179 1,163 2,426 5,717 2072 11,629
row% 0.5% 0.2% 1.5% 10.0% 20.9% 49.2% 17.8% 100.0%
Total no N 564 3,913 5,250 13,253 10,746 16,393 5,626 55,745
row% 1.0% 7.0% 9.4% 23.8% 19.3% 29.4% 10.1% 100.0%
yes N 73 502 407 580 245 174 63 2044
row% 3.6% 24.6% 19.9% 28.4% 12.0% 8.5% 3.1% 100.0%
ave-rage N 637 4,415 5,657 13,833 10,991 16,567 5,689 57,789
row% 1.1% 7.6% 9.8% 23.9% 19.0% 28.7% 9.8% 100.0%

Discussion and conclusion

In our study, we analysed two groups of students whose learning processes can be impeded: those with mild learning problems labelled as ILBD students, and those with learning disorder, who represent the more severe type. All our previously established hypotheses, which are related to the two groups examined, were confirmed in our research.

The significant results by ANOVA of both students' groups (students with ILBD or learning disorder) lag behind the competency results of the majority children in both Mathematics and Reading. This may be related to family background because it can also be stated about the groups that students who have some kind of problem have less advantaged family backgrounds than their peers (majority children) (Hypothesis 1 and 3). 8 A comparison of students with ILBD and students with learning disorder shows that those with learning disorder have a less fortunate family background in the groups, are less in favour of subjects and have lower academic aims as well. Our research confirmed the findings reported in previous scientific literature (Hegedűs, 2021, 2022) on the differences between students with and without ILBD, and those with and without learning disorder. There is a difference between the different classes based on groups and maintainers (Hypotheses 2 and 4), because students achieve the best results in group with normal curriculum in denominational institutions, while students' achievement is better in intensive FLL classes and in classes with an increased number of lessons in state institutions. According to groups, the lowest achievements are in classes with normal curriculum, while the best are in classes with an increased number of lessons. According to our findings, although children with learning disorder and ILBD have problems not only in primary but in secondary schools too (e.g. we analysed the 10th grade in secondary schools), they are lagging behind the academic achievement of their peers even less as they are still able to perform better than those in classes with normal curriculum under the right conditions. According to the groups and the characteristics of the child, there are still differences in subject preferences (Hypotheses 5). We believe that one way to reduce the gap between the outcomes of typical and atypical students could be to differentiate more in class and take individual abilities into consideration, more intensive special education development, and – as Leroy and her colleagues (2019) suggest – working out special programs for them. As a result of an increase in academic success, students would be more likely to like their subjects, and they would be more willing to set higher aims in planning further studies if their learning failures are minimized.

About the authors

Roland Hegedűs PhD graduated as a Biology and Geography teacher from the University of Debrecen in 2014, furthermore Special Needs Educator and Therapist (learning disabilities and difficulties and speech and language therapy) from the University of Debrecen in 2021. He is currently working at the Catholic University of Károly Eszterházy as an associate professor, where he teaches students in special education teacher training. His field of research includes disadvantaged students, students with special education needs, and territorial researches.

Krisztina Sebestyén PhD graduated as a German foreign language and Pedagogy teacher from the University of Debrecen in 2013. She is currently working at the University of Nyíregyháza as an assistant lecturer, where she teaches students in teacher training. Her field of research is the motivation and practice of learning and teaching a foreign language, with special regard to the German language.

Acknowledgements

With the support of the ERASMUS+ Programme of the European Union.

The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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1

In our paper, atypical students are meant to refer to students with some difficulties (e.g. in learning), and are differentiated from typical students (without specific difficulties).

2

The Hungarian term is beilleszkedési, tanulási, magatartási nehézség (BTMN).

3

The Hungarian term is sajátos nevelési igény (SNI).

4

National Core Curriculum in this governmental regulation concerned for the analysed students, but it is relieved the new version of National Core Curriculum (Government Decree 5/2020 [I. 31.]).

5

It usually means 2 lessons more.

6

“The family background index contains the following variables: school qualifications of the mother and the father, number of computers in the household, number of books at home and number of the student's own books” (Hegedűs, 2020: 79).

7

In the table, row% means row percentage according to the SPSS.

8

In the table, row% means row percentage according to the SPSS.

  • 2003. évi LXI . törvény a közoktatásról szóló 1993. évi LXXIX. törvény módosításáról (Act LXI of 2003 amending Act LXXIX of 1993 on Public Education).

  • 2011. évi CXC . törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről (Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education).

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Senior Editors

Founding Editor: Tamás Kozma (Debrecen University)

Editor-in-ChiefAnikó Fehérvári (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University)

Assistant Editor: Eszter Bükki (ELTE Eötvös Loránd University)

Associate editors: 
Karolina Eszter Kovács (Debrecen University)
Valéria Markos (Debrecen University)
Zsolt Kristóf (Debrecen University)

 

Editorial Board

  • Tamas Bereczkei (University of Pécs)
  • Mark Bray (University of Hong Kong)
  • John Brennan (London School of Economics)
  • Carmel Cefai (University of Malta)
  • Laszlo Csernoch (University of Debrecen)
  • Katalin R Forray (HERA Hungarian Educational Research Association)
  • Zsolt Demetrovics (Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest)
  • Csaba Jancsak (University of Szeged)
  • Gabor Halasz (Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest)
  • Stephen Heyneman (Vanderbilt University, Nashville)
  • Katalin Keri (University of Pecs)
  • Marek Kwiek (Poznan University)
  • Joanna Madalinska-Michalak (University of Warszawa)
  • John Morgan (Cardiff University)
  • Roberto Moscati (University of Milan-Bicocca)
  • Guy Neave (Twente University, Enschede)
  • Andrea Ohidy (University of Freiburg)
  • Bela Pukanszky (University of Szeged)
  • Gabriella Pusztai (University of Debrecen)
  • Peter Toth (HERA Hungarian Educational Research Association)
  • Juergen Schriewer (Humboldt University, Berlin)
  • Ulrich Teichler (University of Kassel)
  • Voldemar Tomusk (Estonian Academy of Sciences, Tallin)
  • Horst Weishaupt (DIPF German Institute for International Educational Research, Frankfurt a.M)
  • Pavel Zgaga (University of Ljubljana)

 

Address of editorial office

Dr. Anikó Fehérvári
Institute of Education, ELTE Eötvös Loránd University
Address: 23-27. Kazinczy út 1075 Budapest, Hungary
E-mail: herj@ppk.elte.hu

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Hungarian Educational Research Journal
Publication Model Gold Open Access
Submission Fee none
Article Processing Charge none
Subscription Information Gold Open Access

Hungarian Educational Research Journal
Language English
Size B5
Year of
Foundation
2011
Volumes
per Year
1
Issues
per Year
4
Founder Magyar Nevelés- és Oktatáskutatók Egyesülete – Hungarian Educational Research Association
Founder's
Address
H-4010 Debrecen, Hungary Pf 17
Publisher Akadémiai Kiadó
Publisher's
Address
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.
Responsible
Publisher
Chief Executive Officer, Akadémiai Kiadó
ISSN 2064-2199 (Online)

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