Roundup of blogs and research – September 5, 2016

Is China setting up its first immigration office?

President Xi Jinping is seeking overseas talent to help drive the transition of China’s economy from manufacturing and investment to consumer spending and innovation, according to unnamed sources…more

Shanghai Elementary Schools Overhaul Testing, Begin Using Letter Grades

After a successful pilot program, elementary schools in Shanghai will begin using letter grades (A-D) to report student performance. The changes go into effect this week in schools across the top-performing system with the goal of encouraging parents and students to take an even greater interest in education. What’s more, the written midterm and final exams that schools in China have used for decades will be done away with entirely and parents will receive report cards with letter grades that will take into account student academic performance as well as their interest in the subject matter, schooling and their general behavior. “Chinese students are used to taking written tests in which the highest mark is 100. But such a method has its limitations, as it only shows the result, not the process,” said Zhu Lei of the Shanghai Education Commission. “Sometimes, students are discouraged when they fail to get full marks because they lose just one or two points. With the new system, students who don’t do well in a quiz can still get an A if they prove that they have understood a subject and show a good attitude toward learning.”

The effectiveness of private tutoring in China with a focus on class-size

This paper endeavours to shed light on the effect of private tutoring for Mathematics, Chinese and English in various kinds of class-size on students’ performances in the National College Entrance Exam (NCEE) in China. To achieve this, it draws upon a dataset collected by a specifically designed questionnaire on private tutoring of grade 12 students in Jinan, China. With the consideration of nested alternative structure of choices among private tutoring in different class-size and self-selection problem, the study employed a nested logit model to investigate the factors underlying students’ choice of private tutoring and has fitted OLS model to examine the effects of different class-size tutoring.

China in the Middle-Income Trap?

Over the last decade, a growing body of literature dealing with the phenomenon of the “middle-income trap” (MIT) has emerged. The term MIT usually refers to countries that have experienced rapid growth and thus reached the status of a middle-income country (MIC) in a considerably short amount of time, but have not been able to further catch up to the group of high-income economies. Especially, since the beginning growth slowdown of the Chinese economy in 2011, there has been rising concern that China is or will also be confronted with such a trap. This paper analyzes the Chinese MIT situation taking into account both the (absolute and relative) empirical MIT definitions and MIT triggering factors identified in the literature. We not only survey the recent literature, but also make our own MIT forecasts and analyze under which conditions China could be caught in an MIT.

Vietnam Taps into World Bank-Funded Project to Lure Overseas Experts

Vietnam is using funds from a World Bank project to attract experts from other countries, particularly overseas Vietnamese, in a bid to boost its research and development capacity and bolster knowledge transfer…

Private secondary schools in Indonesia: What is driving the demand?

Despite recent evidence that students in public schools significantly outperform their private school counterparts, private schooling continues to account for approximately 40% of secondary school enrolments in Indonesia. In an effort to explain this sustained demand, we combine analyses of PISA data with in-country interviews and school visits. Ultimately, we find that although government dependent private schools are underfunded with a high proportion of uncertified, underpaid teachers (with limited access to training and professional development), demand remains high due to their focus on religious training and education, as well as their ability to increase educational access for low-income families.

Pacific Islands Literacy and Numeracy Assessment (PILNA)

The latest PILNA was also the largest ever assessment for the Pacific Islands region. It was administered in 13 countries in October 2015. More than 45,000 students in year 4 and year 6 in some 700 schools took part…

Regulating private tutoring consumption in Korea: Lessons from another failure

The proliferation of private tutoring is a widespread phenomenon, Korea being one the most notable examples. Indeed, successive Korean governments have attempted to limit private tutoring consumption for more than four decades. In 2006, state education authorities imposed a restriction on operating hours of hagwon (private tutoring academies) in an attempt at reducing the economic and time resources spent on private tutoring. Since then, some provincial authorities have modified the curfew on hagwon. We take advantage of these policy shifts to identify average treatment effects taking a difference-in-differences approach. Our findings suggest that enforcing the curfew did not generate a significant reduction in the hours and resources spent on private tutoring, our results being heterogeneous by school level and socioeconomic status. Demand for private tutoring seems to be especially inelastic for high school students, who increased their consumption of alternative forms of private tutoring. As the consumption of private tutoring is positively correlated with academic performance and socioeconomic status, strengthening the curfew may have a negative effect on the equality of educational opportunities.

Confusion over Purpose of U.S. Education System

Fewer than half of poll respondents thought the main goal of public education should be to prepare students academically…

Teacher Quality and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Sample of Dutch Twins

This paper examines the causal link that runs from classroom quality to student achievement using data on twin pairs who entered the same school but were allocated to different classrooms in an exogenous way. In particular, we apply twin fixed-effects estimation to assess the effect of teacher quality on student test scores from second through eighth grade of primary education, arguing that a change in teacher quality is probably the most important classroom intervention within a twin context. In a series of estimations using measurable teacher characteristics, we find that (a) the test performance of all students improves with teacher experience; (b) teacher experience also matters for student performance after the initial years in the profession; (c) the teacher experience effect is most prominent in earlier grades; (d) the teacher experience effects are robust to the inclusion of other classroom quality measures, such as peer group composition and class size; and (e) an increase in teacher experience also matters for career stages with less labor market mobility, which suggests positive returns to on-the-job learning of teachers.

Time to change our university graduate expectations by degrees

By Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel

In 2012, Victoria hit a tipping point: 52 per cent of Year 12 school-leavers progressed to university. From that year on a bachelor’s degree would be the majority choice, growing in popularity with every new college cohort. It is the mark of an unmistakeable national trend: the era of mass tertiary education has arrived…more

A Global Data Set on Education Quality

The Global Achievement data is assembled (by Patrinos and Angrist) based on a panel data set which measures cognitive achievement for 128 countries around the world from 1965 to 2010 in 5-year intervals. This data set is constructed from international achievement tests, such as PISA and TIMMS, which have become increasingly available since the late 1990s. International assessments are linked to regional ones such as SACMEQ, PASEC and LLECE to produce one of the first globally comparable datasets on student achievement. The data covers including 29 African countries and 19 Latin American countries. This data set is an extension of an earlier data set constructed by Altinok and Murseli (2007). [Background paper: Angrist, Patrinos, & Schlotter 2013. “An expansion of a global data set on educational quality: a focus on achievement in developing countries.” Policy Research Working Paper Series 6536]


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