The IEA’ Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2016) is an international comparative study, comprised of cognitive test and several background questionnaires to test reading literacy of 4th graders and collect data on multiple factors associated with it. Many of the variables collected in PIRLS 2016 are also used in monitoring Unesco’ SDG target 4 (Unesco, n.d.). Our secondary study is focused especially on indicator 4.a.2 (Unesco, 2018), although several other SDGs are addressing prevention of bullying. On average across the PIRLS 2016 countries, the majority of fourth grade students (57%) reported almost never being bullied (Mullis, Martin, Foy, and Hooper, 2017). However, 29 percent reported them were bullied on a monthly basis, and 14 percent on a weekly basis (ibid.). There is a number of countries where 20 percent or more of the students reported being bullied weekly (ibid.). In our secondary study we will use data for five European countries – Bulgaria, Slovenia, Italy, Spain, and Malta for which the average scale score for student bullying is similar – ranging from 9.9 to 9.8 (ibid.). However, data from our secondary study will be not only from student questionnaire, but also from others (teachers’, principals’ – schools, and parents’ questionnaires). Fourth grade students’ reports on being bullied are directly related to their average reading achievement, with each successive category of increased bullying being related to a decrease in average reading achievement (521 average for almost never, 507 for monthly, and 482 for weekly, i.e. a decrease of 39 points overall) (ibid.), as international average result. The preliminary analysis for one country (Slovenia) have shown that relationship between bullying and student reading achievement is very weak (although statistically significant), therefore the original plan for the multivariate analysis to use regression model where the association between student being bullied at school (dependent variable) and student achievement as its predictor (reading) when controlling for multiple other variables like SES, school environment safety, and student behavioural issues among other background and contextual variables from the student, home, teacher and school variables was changed to multiple linear regression analysis (Klemenčič, Mirazchiyski, and Javornik, 2019). Thus, the analysis will focus on testing the association between student being bullied and the groups of variables which will show the measures mostly related with school bullying. That is, controlling for each of the predictors for all other predictors at the same time. It is expected that some of the predictors will lose their predicting power (i.e. their regression coefficients will become insignificant) while other will remain statistically significant. This way, we will be able to identify the most strongly related with the bullying variables after controlling for all other in the model. We will perform those analysis for each of five European countries separately and then compare the results.
I read this study with interest because of my work in South Africa with religious bullying. Given the European context, I am curious to what extent religious bullying and non-immigrant sentiments plays in bullying. Building off this work, if we are to complicate the discussion further in terms of the multiple layers and intersectional factors impacting the school experience through the lens of bullying, we have the opportunity to unpack how deeply these challenges may run.
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