Academic journal article Education

A Comparison of the Academic Achievements of Students with Different Primary School Entrance Age

Academic journal article Education

A Comparison of the Academic Achievements of Students with Different Primary School Entrance Age

Article excerpt

Introduction

Primary school entrance age in Turkey was changed from age 6 to age 5 in 2012 (Law on Amendments and Additions on Primary Education and Training 11.04.2012). This regulation has been examined and criticized by the universities, pedagogues, and non-governmental organizations involved in education. According to the pedagogues, lowering the primary school entrance age to 60 months was not realistic (Ankara University [AU] 2012; Bogazici University [BU] 2012a; Cukurova University [CU] 2012; Mersin University [MU] 2012; Guven 2012). The primary school curriculum, designed for children who start primary education at the age of six, is not appropriate for the children of five (Middle East Technical University [METU] 2012a; Mother Child Education Foundation [ACEV] 2012). Most of the five year-old children may not yet have self-care abilities and school readiness skills and abilities for the basic education (AU 2012; CU 2012; Educational Reform Initiative [ERG] 2012a). These children are not at concrete operational stage, which means they are not at sufficient cognitive level to be able to perform reading-writing and simple numerical calculations and evaluations (BU 2012b; ERG 2012a). Children entering school without having the basic skills needed to succeed in school may experience academic, social and psychological problems (METU 2012b). Children who enter primary school early will complete the primary school while at the concrete operational stage, will fail in the formal operational stage required by the secondary school, and be unsuccessful (BU 2012a). Entering school of the five and six year-old children at the same time in the 2012-2013 academic year will double the number of students enrolled, which will decrease the quality of education both at the first grade and the following grades (Hacettepe University [HU] 2012; ERG 2012a; Ozenc and Arslanhan Memis 2012). 60 and 73 month-old children are considerably different regarding their intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and personal/individual characteristics, and even three months age difference is significant in the childhood years when they develop fast (HU 2012). This application is not consistent with the present teacher training system (AU 2012; METU 2012a). Entering primary school at the age of five may cause early and thus inappropriate profession selections (METU 2012a; Koc University 2012; MU 2012; ERG 2012b).

Despite these views, five-year-old (completed 60 months of age) children were entitled to enter primary school in the 2012-2013 academic year (Ministry of National Education [MONE] Regulation on Regulatory Amendment on Primary Education Institutions 21.07.2012). By the end of September 2012, children who completed 66 months of age were registered in primary school directly while the children of ages 60-66 were registered with the written consent of their parents. On the other hand, 66-month-old and older children who were not developed physically and mentally to adapt to primary school were envisioned to be directed to preschool or be enrolled in primary school the following year on the condition that they would obtain "medical examiner's report of physically and mentally underdeveloped" from the medical institutions by the end of November. Parents who obtain "medical report" in order not to send their children to primary school at the age of five were accused of "betraying" their children by the government members (Hurriyet 1st September 2012). In the same period, Turkish Medical Association (2012) published a report presenting the developmental stages of children and the disadvantages of entering school at an early age. MONE set forth the implementation of a three-month adaptation and preparation program for the children who enter the primary school at five. A number of research found significant issues regarding the implementation of the program and the course materials (Cogenli and Ucansoy 2014; Delican 2013; Gozutok, Ulubey, Akcatepe, Kocer and Ruzgar 2013). …

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