The goal of this paper is to describe and analyze the relationship between ability tracking and student social trust, in the context of low-income students in developing countries. Drawing on the results from a longitudinal study among 1,436 low-income students across 132 schools in rural China, we found a significant lack of interpersonal trust and confidence in public institutions among poor rural young adults. We also found that slow-tracked students have a significantly lower level of social trust, comprised of interpersonal trust and confidence in public institutions, relative to their fast-tracked peers. This disparity might further widen the gap between relatively privileged students who stay in school and less privileged students who drop out of school. These results suggest that making high school accessible to more students may improve social trust among rural low-income young adults.
In the 1990s, rural youth from poor counties in China had limited access to college. After mass college expansion started in 1998, however, it was unclear whether rural youth from poor counties would gain greater access. The aim of this paper is to examine the gap in college and elite college access between rural youth from poor counties and other students after expansion. We estimate the gaps in access by using data on all students who took the college entrance exam in 2003. Our results show that gaps in access remained high even after expansion.
Cultural taboos can restrict student learning on topics of critical importance. In India, such taboos have led multiple states to ban materials intended to educate youth about HIV, putting millions at risk. We present the design of TeachAIDS, a software application that leverages cultural insights, learning science, and affordances of technology to provide comprehensive HIV education while circumventing taboos.
This study describes the current teacher training system in China, including the prevalence of teacher training, the types of training, training content and the ways that training is delivered. The paper presents subjective evaluations of training for principals and teachers using four diverse datasets. The results show that the National Teacher Training Project (NTTP) deviates from offi cial policy objectives in several respects. The subjects of training programs and training content are not fully compliant with policy objectives. In addition, training opportunities are offered to a smaller proportion of rural teachers than urban teachers. It is found that the proportion of teachers and principals satisfied with the NTTP is lower than that for other types of training. Therefore, measures should be taken to increase training opportunities for rural teachers and to ensure the quality of training for all teachers.
Relatively little is known about differences in the quality of engineering education within and across countries because of the lack of valid instruments that allow for the assessment and comparison of engineering students’ skill gains. The purpose of our study is to develop and validate instruments that can be used to compare student skill gains in mathematics and physics courses in undergraduate engineering programmes across countries. The approach includes procedures to establish construct validity and other necessary psychometric properties. Drawing on data collected from over 24 engineering experts and 3600 engineering students across Russia and China, we establish that it is possible to develop valid, equitable and cross-nationally comparable instruments that can assess and compare skill gains.
Although vocational schooling is responsible for educating a large share of students in the world today, there is little evidence about what factors matter for vocational student learning. Using data on approximately 1,400 vocational students in one eastern province in China, we employ a student fixed effects model to identify whether teacher enterprise experience—believed to be one of the most important factors for vocational student learning—increases students’ technical skills. We find that enterprise experience has a substantial positive impact on students’ technical skills. Furthermore, the impacts are concentrated on high-achieving students. In contrast, policies to provide teachers with “professional certifications” (given to teachers who participate in short-term trainings) have no positive impact.
Accumulation of human capital is indispensable to spur economic growth. If students fail to acquire such skills, not only will they have a hard time finding high-wage employment in the future, but the development of the economies in which they work may also stagnate from a shortage of human capital. The overall goal of this study is try to understand if China is ready in terms of the education of its labor force to progress from middle income to high income country status. To achieve this goal, we seek to understand the share of the labor force that has attained at least some upper secondary schooling (upper secondary attainment) and to benchmark these educational attainment rates against the rates of the labor forces in other countries (e.g., high income/OECD countries; a subset of G20 middle income/BRICS countries). Using the Sixth Population Census data, we are able to show that China’s human capital is shockingly poor. In 2010 only 24% of China’s entire labor force (individuals 25-64 years of age) had ever attended upper secondary school. This rate is less than one-third of the average upper secondary attainment rate in OECD countries. China’s overall upper secondary attainment rate and the attainment rate of its youngest workers (25-34 year old workers) is also the lowest of all the BRICS countries (with the exception of India for which data were not available). Our analysis also demonstrates that the statistics on upper secondary education reported by the Ministry of Education (MoE) are overestimated. In the paper, we document when MoE and Census-based statistics diverge and raise three possible policy-based reasons why officials may have begun to have an incentive to misreport in the mid-2000s.
Students in rural China are dropping out of secondary school at troubling rates. While there is considerable quantitative research on this issue, no systematic effort has been made to assess the deeper reasons behind student decision making through a mixed-methods approach. This article seeks to explore the prevalence, correlates and potential reasons for rural dropout throughout the secondary education process. It brings together results from eight large-scale survey studies covering 24,931 rural secondary students across four provinces, as well as analysis of extensive interviews with 52 students from these same study sites. The results show that the cumulative dropout rate across all windows of secondary education may be as high as 63 per cent. Dropping out is significantly correlated with low academic performance, high opportunity cost, low socioeconomic status and poor mental health. A model is developed to suggest that rural dropout is primarily driven by two mechanisms: rational cost-benefit analysis or impulsive, stress-induced decision making.
A number of developing countries are currently promoting vocational education and training (VET) as a way to build human capital and strengthen economic growth. The primary aim of this study is to understand whether VET at the high school level contributes to human capital development in one of those countries—China. To fulfill this aim, we draw on longitudinal data on more than 10,000 students in vocational high school (in the most popular major, computing) and academic high school from two provinces of China. First, estimates from instrumental variables and matching analyses show that attending vocational high school (relative to academic high school) substantially reduces math skills and does not improve computing skills. Second, heterogeneous effect estimates also show that attending vocational high school increases dropout, especially among disadvantaged (low-income or low-ability) students. Third, we use vertically scaled (equated) baseline and follow-up test scores to measure gains in math and computing skills among the students. We find that students who attend vocational high school experience absolute reductions in math skills. Taken together, our findings suggest that the rapid expansion of vocational schooling as a substitute for academic schooling can have detrimental consequences for building human capital in developing countries such as China.
Policymakers in many developing countries regard upper-secondary technical and vocational education and training (TVET) as a key element in economic growth and poverty reduction. Unfortunately, there is evidence that upper-secondary TVET programs in developing countries experience high rates of dropout. The overall goal of this study is to examine the dropout rates and reasons for dropout among uppersecondary TVET students in China. To meet this goal, we have three specific objectives. First, we seek to produce high-quality estimates of dropout rates among students in upper-secondary TVET schools in one coastal and one inland province of China. Second, we seek to identify which students drop out from upper-secondary TVET. Third, we test whether financial constraints, math and computer achievement, and parental education and migration status correlate with TVET dropout. Drawing on data from a survey of 7414 upper-secondary TVET students in two provinces of China, we find dropout rates of 10.7% across both provinces and as high as 22% in poorer inland areas, suggesting major gaps and disparities in Chinese TVET dropout rates. Furthermore, we find that baseline academic performance and maternal education and migration status are strong correlates for student dropout.
We respond to Anning Hu's commentary on our report “College is a rich, Han, urban, male club: Research notes from a census survey of four tier one colleges in China.” The topic of assessing disparities in college access in China (and other developing countries undergoing major transitions in their higher education systems) is an important one. We hope that our China Quarterly article, Hu’s commentary and our response will stimulate more research and dialogue on this topic in China and elsewhere.
A huge increase in engineering graduates from the BRIC countries in recent
decades potentially threatens the competitiveness of developed countries in producing high
value-added products and services, while also holding great promise for substantially
increasing the level of global basic and applied innovation. The key question is whether the
quality of these new BRIC engineers will be high enough to actualize this potential. The
objective of our study is to assess the evolving capacity of BRIC higher education systems
to produce qualified engineering graduates. To meet this objective, we compare developments in the quality of undergraduate engineering programs across elite and non-elite
higher education tiers within and across each BRIC country. To assess and compare the
quality of engineering education across the BRIC countries, we use multiple sources of
primary and secondary data gathered from each BRIC country from 2008 to 2011. In
combination with this, we utilize a production function approach that focuses on key input-,
process- and outcome-based indicators associated with the quality of education programs.
Our analysis suggests that in all four countries, a minority of engineering students receives
high quality training in elite institutions while the majority of students receive low quality training in non-elite institutions. Our analysis also shows how the BRIC countries vary in
their capacity to improve the quality of engineering education.