The baseline model indicates that attending a school in the French part of the country has a negative influence on reading achievement.
In the student-level model, several findings were significant.
Being retained one grade year has a negative influence on reading performance. Being in a vocational education program also has a negative influence. Students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds, males, and students speaking another language at home perform worse as well. Non-European origin also has a significantly negative impact on achievement. However, when all student characteristics are included in the model, the achievement gap between the two communities (Flemish and French) remains the same, indicating that student’s background cannot sufficiently explain why Flemish (Belgian Dutch) schools present better reading outcomes.
In the school-level model testing compositional effects, academic and socioeconomic composition has an extra significant effect on reading achievement. The model also shows that part of the performance gap between Flemish and French communities is explained by school composition.
Modeling delay (retention) and vocational variables as random effects does not explain the achievement gap between communities.
The final model includes and interaction terms between community and academic composition as well as between community and socioeconomic composition. The effects are both significant, indicating that the academic and socioeconomic composition of schools depends on their location. In the Dutch-speaking community academic composition has a larger effect but in French-speaking communities, socioeconomic composition has a larger effect.