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Journal Articles

Contract Teachers and Student Achievement in Rural China - Evidence from Class Fixed Effects

Wang Lei, Siqi Zhang, Mengjie Li, Yonglei Sun, Sean Sylvia, Enyan Yang, Guangrong Ma, Linxiu Zhang, Di Mo, Scott Rozelle
The Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics , 2018
For schooling to play an important role in the development of human capital, the system of education needs to provide quality education, which among other things requires high-quality teachers. Facing fiscal constraints and growing enrolments,
school systems in developing countries often supplement their teaching staff by hiring contract teachers. However, there is limited evidence on how the effectiveness of these teachers compares to that of civil service teachers. We use a dataset from rural primary schools in western China to estimate the causal effect of contract teachers on student achievement and find that gains in student scores on standardised examinations in mathematics and Chinese are less in classes taught by contract teachers than in classes taught by civil service teachers. The results demonstrate that China’s education system needs to focus on producing high-quality teachers to improve the quality of schooling in its rural education system. The findings imply that educators in developing countries should not only seek to hire increasingly more civil service teachers in rural schools, but they should also identify ways of improving the quality of contract teachers. If efforts to improve teaching can succeed, rural students can learn more, earn higher incomes and contribute more to the productivity of the overall economy.
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Journal Articles

Assessing the Quality of Upper-Secondary Vocational Education and Training: Evidence from China

Hongmei Yi, Guirong Li, Liying Li, Prashant Loyalka, Linxiu Zhang, Jiajia Xu, Elena Kardanova, Henry Shi, James Chu
Comparative Education Review , 2018
An increasing number of policymakers in developing countries have made the mass expansion of upper-secondary vocational education and training (VET) a top priority. The goal of this study is to examine whether VET fulfills the objectove of building skills and abilities along multiple dimensions and further identify which school-level factors help vocational students build these skills and abilities. To fulfill this goal, we analyzed representative, longitudinal data that we collected on more than 12,000 students from 118 schools in once province of central China. First, descriptive analysis shows approximately 90% of VET students do not make any gains in vocational or general skills. In addition, negative behaviors (misbehavior in the classroom, anti-social behavior, and other risky behaviors) are highly prevalent among VET students. A nontrivial proportion of student internships also fail to meet minimum government requirements for student safety and well-being. Perhaps as a result of these outcomes, more than 60% of students express dissatisfaction with their VET programs, as evidenced by eitehr self-reports or dropping out. Finally, using a multi-level model, we find that school inputs (such as school size, teacher qualifications, and per pupil expenditure) are not correlated with vocational and general skill at the end of the school year, or student dropout in the academic year.
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Journal Articles

The Academic Performance of Primary School Students from Rural China: Distribution and Correlates

Hongyan Liu, Hao Xue, Yaojiang Shi, Scott Rozelle
China Agricultural Economic Review , 2018

Purpose – Low levels of human capital in rural China are rooted in the poor schooling outcomes of elementary school students. The purpose of this paper is to provide insight into the distribution of academic performance in rural China and identify vulnerable groups.
Design/methodology/approach – The authors draw on a data set of 25,892 observations constructed from 11 school-level surveys spanning nine provinces and one municipality in China conducted from 2013 to 2015. Findings – The authors find that the distribution of academic performance is uneven across provinces and subgroups. In general, male students, Han, living in richer counties, living with their parents and studying in rural public schools do better academically than female students, non-Han, living in poorer counties, left behind and studying in private migrant schools in cities.

Research limitations/implications – Using the results of this study, policymakers should be able to better target investments into rural education focusing on at risk subpopulations.
Originality/value – With limited data sources, the research on the academic performance of students in rural China is largely absent. The findings of this study help to fill the gaps in the literature base.

Keywords China, Rural areas, Academic performance Paper type Research paper

 

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Working Papers

Unpacking Teacher Professional Development

Guirong Li, Chengfang Liu
Working Paper , 2017

Despite massive investments in teacher professional development (PD) programs in developing countries, there is little evidence on their effectiveness. We present the results of a large-scale, randomized evaluation of a high-profile PD program in China, in which teachers were randomized to receive PD; PD plus follow-up; PD plus evaluation of their command of the PD content; or no PD. Precise estimates indicate that PD and associated interventions failed to improve teacher and student outcomes.

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Journal Articles

The Impact of Conditional Cash Transfers on the Matriculation of Junior High School Students to Rural China’s High Schools

Fan Li, YIngquan Song, Hongmei Yi, Jianguo Suo, Linxiu Zhang, Yaojiang Shi, James Chu, Natalie Johnson, Prashant Loyalka, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Development Effectiveness , 2017
The goal of this study is to examine whether promising a conditional cash transfer (conditional on matriculation) at the start of junior high school increases the rate at which disadvantaged students matriculate into high school. Based on a randomised controlled trial (RCT) involving 1418 disadvantaged (economically poor) students in rural China, we find that a CCT voucher has no effect on increasing high school matriculation for the average disadvantaged student. The CCT voucher also has no differential impact on students at any point in the distribution of baseline academic achievement. This result suggests that CCTs, while shown to be effective in many contexts, do not always work.
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Journal Articles

The Gender Gap Among School Children in Poor Rural Areas of Western China: Evidence From a Multi-Province Dataset

Hua Zhou, Di Mo, Chengchao Zhou, Alexis Medina, Yaojiang Shi, Linxiu Zhang, Scott Rozelle
International Journal of Equity in Health , 2016
Background: The gender gap remains a major impediment in the path towards equality and it is especially wide in low-income countries. Up to the early 2000s, many studies documented extensive inequalities in China: girls had poorer health, less nutrition and less education than their male counterparts. The goal of this study is to examine whether the gender gap persists, given that China is now making the transition into the ranks of upper-middle income countries. We consider educational outcomes, mental and physical health status, as well as non-cognitive outcomes.
 
Methods: We draw on a dataset containing 69,565 observations constructed by combining data from 7 different school-level surveys spanning 5 provinces. The surveys were all conducted by the authors between 2008 and 2013 using uniform survey instruments and data collection protocols in randomly selected schools across western provinces in rural China. The sample children range in age from 9 to 14 years (with 79 % of the sample being aged 10 to 12). Our analysis compares rural girls with rural boys in terms of 13 different indicators.
 
Results: With the exception of anemia rates, the health outcomes of girls are equal to those of boys. Girls and boys are statistically identical in terms of weight-for-age, height-for-age, and prevalence of intestinal worm infections. Girls performed better than boys on five of six cognitive and educational performance indicators. Girls performed worse than boys on all mental health indicators. All estimates are robust to the inclusion of different age ranges, controlling for the level of household assets, ethnic minority status, as well as the addition of provincial dummies.
 
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that with the exception of non-cognitive outcomes, anemia and standardized math test scores, the gender gap in our study areas in China appears to be diminishing.

 

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Journal Articles

Educational Expectations and Dropout Behavior among Junior High Students in Rural China

Fang Chang, Wenbin Min, Yaojiang Shi, Kaleigh Kenny, Prashant Loyalka
China & World Economy , 2016
The high level of dropout from junior high school is one of the most serious challenges facing the human capital development of the next generation of workers in China's rural areas. The goal of this paper is to assess to what extent the educational expectations of students are correlated with dropout behavior at the junior high school level in China. Using panel data, this research finds that the cumulative dropout rate is high among grade 7 and 8 students within our sample (as high as 19.5 percent, which implies a 3‐year dropout rate of around 25 percent). Importantly, we find that this high rate of dropout is significantly correlated with students' educational expectations. Specifically, students who reported their expected level of education is “less than high school” or “less than college” are five times and four times more likely to drop out during junior high school than their peers, respectively.
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Journal Articles

Implementation of Teacher Training in China and Its Policy Implications

Hongyan Liu, Chengfang Liu, Fang Chang, Prashant Loyalka
China & World Economy , 2016

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.

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Journal Articles

Can Social–Emotional Learning Reduce School Dropout in Developing Countries?

Huan Wang, James Chu, Prashant Loyalka, Tao Xin, Yaojiang Shi, Qinghe Qu, Chu Yang
Journal of Policy Analysis and Management , 2016
An alarming number of students drop out of junior high school in developing countries. In this study, we examine the impacts of providing a social–emotional learning (SEL) program on the dropout behavior and learning anxiety of students in the first two years of junior high. We do so by analyzing data from a randomized controlled trial involving 70 junior high schools and 7,495 students in rural China. After eight months, the SEL program reduces dropout by 1.6 percentage points and decreases learning anxiety by 2.3 percentage points. Effects are no longer statistically different from zero after 15 months, perhaps due to decreasing student interest in the program. However, we do find that the program reduces dropout among students at high risk of dropping out (older students and students with friends who have already dropped out), both after eight and 15 months of exposure to the SEL program.
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Journal Articles

Impact of a Teacher Incentive on Children’s Use of Eyeglasses: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

Hongmei Yi, Haiqing Zhang, Xiaochen Ma, Linxiu Zhang, Nathan Congdon, Xiuqing Wang, Kovin Shunmugam Naidoo, Hasan Minto, Haidong Zou, Scott Rozelle
American Journal of Opthalmology , 2016

Purpose: The impact of school-time wear of glasses on children’s education has been shown to be limited by lack of regular compliance in half or more of children, even when free glasses are given. We sought to study the impact of free glasses combined with teacher incentives on in-school use of glasses among Chinese urban migrant children.

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Working Papers

Impact of Teacher Professional Development Program on Student Achievement in China - Supplemental Tables

2016

 Supplemental Tables to the paper: "Impact of Teacher Professional Development Program on Student Achievement in China"

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Journal Articles

The Impact of Integrating ICT with Teaching: Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Schools in China

Yu Bai, Di Mo, Linxiu Zhang, Matthew Boswell, Scott Rozelle
Elsevier , 2016

Recent attention has been placed on whether integrating Information Communication Technology (hereafter, ICT) into education can effectively improve learning outcomes. However, the empirical evidence of the impact of programmes that adopt ICT in schooling is mixed. Theory suggests it may be due to differences in whether or not the ICT pro-grammes are integrated into a teaching programme of a class. Unfortunately, few empirical studies compare the relative effectiveness of programmes that integrate ICT into teaching with the ones that do not. In order to understand the most effective way to design new programmes that attempt to utilize ICT to improve English learning, we conducted a clustered randomized controlled trial (RCT) with some schools receiving ICT that was in-tegrated into the teaching programme of the class; with some schools that received ICT without having it integrated into the teaching programme; and with other schools being used as controls. The RCT involved 6304 fifth grade students studying English in 127 rural schools in rural China. Our results indicate that when the programme is integrated into the teaching programme of a class it is effective in improving student test scores relative to the control schools. No programme impact, however, is found when the ICT programme is not integrated into the teaching program. We also find that when ICT programmes are inte-grated into teaching, the programmes work similarly for students that have either high or low initial (or baseline) levels of English competency. When ICT programmes are not in-tegrated with teaching, they only raise the educational performance of English students who were performing better during the baseline.

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Journal Articles

The Impact of Vocational Teachers on Student Learning in Developing Countries: Does Enterprise Experience Matter?

Jamie Johnston, Prashant Loyalka, James Chu, Yingquan Song, Hongmei Yi, Xiaoting Huang, Scott Rozelle
Comparative Education Review , 2016

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. 

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Journal Articles

Dropping Out of Rural China's Secondary Schools: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

Yaojiang Shi, Linxiu Zhang, Yue Ma, Hongmei Yi, Chengfang Liu, Natalie Johnson, James Chu, Prashant Loyalka, Scott Rozelle
The China Quarterly , 2015

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. 

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Journal Articles

Impact of Free Glasses and a Teacher Incentive on Children's Use of Eyeglasses: A Cluster-Randomized Controlled Trial

Hongmei Yi, Xiaochen Ma, Linxiu Zhang, Scott Rozelle, Nathan Congdon
American Journal of Ophthalmology , 2015

Purpose: To study the effect of free glasses combined with teacher incentives on in-school glasses wear among Chinese urban migrant children.

Design: A cluster randomized trial.

Methods: Children with visual acuity (VA) ≤6/12 in either eye owing to refractive error in 94 randomly chosen primary schools underwent randomization by school to receive free glasses, education on their use, and a teacher incentive (Intervention), or glasses prescriptions only (Control). Intervention group teachers received a tablet computer if ≥80% of children given glasses wore them during unannounced visits 6 weeks and 6 months (main outcome) after intervention.

Results: Among 4376 children, 728 (16.7%, mean age 10.9 years, 51.0% boys) met enrollment criteria and were randomly allocated, 358 (49.2%, 47 schools) to Intervention and 370 (50.8%, 47 schools) to Control. Among these, 693 children (95.2%) completed the study and underwent analysis. Spectacle wear was significantly higher at 6 months among Intervention children (Observed [main outcome]: 68.3% vs 23.9%, adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 11.5, 95% confidence interval [CI] 5.91–22.5, P < .001; Self-reported: 90.6% vs 32.1%, OR = 43.7, 95% CI = 21.7–88.5, P < .001). Other predictors of observed wear at 6 months included baseline spectacle wear (P < .001), uncorrected VA <6/18 (P = .01), and parental spectacle wear (P = .02). The 6-month observed wear rate was only 41% among similar-aged children provided free glasses in our previous trial without teacher incentives.

Conclusions: Free spectacles and teacher incentives maintain classroom wear in the large majority of children needing glasses over a school year. Low wear among Control children demonstrates the need for interventions.

 

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Journal Articles

The Impact of Teacher Credentials on Student Achievement in China

Jessica Hsiaochieh Chu, Prashant Loyalka, James Chu, Qinghe Qu, Yaojiang Shi, Guirong Li, Scott Rozelle
China Economic Review , 2015
Teacher quality is an important factor in improving student achievement. As such, policymakers have constructed a number of different credentials to identify high quality teachers. Unfortunately, few of the credentials used in developing countries have been validated (in terms of whether teachers holding such credentials actually improve student achievement). In this study, we employ a student-fixed effects model to estimate the impact of teacher credentials on student achievement in the context of the biggest education system in the world: China. We find that having a teacher with the highest rank (a credential based on annual assessments by local administrators) has positive impacts on student achievement relative to having a teacher who has not achieved the highest rank. We further find that teacher rank has heterogeneous impacts, benefiting economically poor students more than non-poor students. However, other credentials (whether the teacher attended college or held teaching awards) have no impact on student achievement. 
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Journal Articles

Teaching the Language of Wider Communication, Minority Students, and Overall Educational Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Qinghai Province, China

Fang Lai, Linxiu Zhang, Qinghe Qu, Xiao Hu, Matthew Boswell, Scott Rozelle
Economic Development and Cultural Change , 2015

The education of poor and disadvantaged populations, particularly those from minority subgroups, has been a long-standing challenge to education systems in both developed and developing countries (e.g., World Bank 2001, 2004; Glewwe and Kremer 2006; Planty et al. 2008). For example, over the past decade in the United States the high school dropout rate of Hispanic students has remained at least twice as high as that of white students (Aud et al.

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Journal Articles

Teaching to the Tails: Teacher Performance Pay and the Distribution of Student Achievement

Sean Sylvia, Chengfang Liu, James Chu, Scott Rozelle
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness , 2015

Abstract: Growing evidence suggests that teachers in developing countries often have weak or misaligned incentives for improving student outcomes. In response, policymakers and researchers have proposed performance pay as a way to improve student outcomes by tying concrete measures like achievement scores to teacher pay.

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Working Papers

276-Is the high school admissions process fair? Explaining inequalities in elite high school enrollments in developing countries

Zhaolei Shi, James Chu, Natalie Johnson, Jianguo Wei, Scott Rozelle
2014

Researchers typically explain inequalities in access to elite high schools by looking at gaps that appear before the high school admissions process. However, even when disadvantaged students reach the stage of high school admissions with identical qualifications as advantaged students, mechanisms particular to the high school admissions process may prevent disadvantaged students from accessing elite high schools. The overall goal of this paper is to examine the degree to which the high school admissions process deters disadvantaged students from accessing elite high schools.

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Journal Articles

Dormitory Management and Boarding Students in China’s Rural Elementary Schools

Ai Yue, Yaojiang Shi, Fang Chang, Chu Yang, Huan Wang, Hongmei Yi, Renfu Luo, Chengfang Liu, Linxiu Zhang, James Chu, Scott Rozelle
China Agricultural Economic Review , 2014

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether an in-service life teacher training program can improve boarding students’ health, behavior, and academic performance.

Design/methodology/approach – The authors conducted a cluster-randomized controlled trial to measure the effect of life teacher training on student health, behavior, and academic performance among 839 boarding students in ten central primary boarding schools in Shaanxi. And the authors also tried to identify why or why not life teacher training works. Both descriptive and multivariate analysis are used in this paper.

Findings – The authors find significant improvements in health and behavior. Specifically, compared to boarding students in control schools, 15 percent fewer students in treatment schools reported feeling cold while sleeping at night. The results also showed that student tardiness and misbehaviors after class declined significantly by 18 and 78 percent, respectively. However, the in-service life teacher training program had no measurable impact on boarding students’ BMI-for-age Z-score, number of misbehaviors in class, and academic performance. The analysis suggests that improved communication between life teachers and students might be one mechanism behind these results.

Originality/value – This is the first empirical work which explored how to improve the welfare of boarding students via their life teachers. Because of the sudden increase in boarding students in rural China, it is almost certain that school personnel lack experience in managing boarding students. As such, one promising approach to improving student outcomes might be in-service training for life teachers.

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Journal Articles

How Are Secondary Vocational Schools in China Measuring up to Government Benchmarks?

Hongmei Yi, Linxiu Zhang, Chengfang Liu, James Chu, Prashant Loyalka, May Maani, Jianguo Wei
China & World Economy , 2013
Drawing on a survey of 106 secondary vocational schools and 7309 students in two provinces of China, this descriptive paper assesses whether vocational schooling is measuring up to government benchmarks for quality and whether poor students are able to access quality schools. We find that secondary vocational schools have met government benchmarks for teacher qualification and training, student opportunities for practical training and adequate facilities. Furthermore, poor students access schools of similar quality to non-poor students, even though 34 percent of poor students do not receive financial aid. We conclude that recent policies are successfully ensuring secondary vocational school quality and equity of access to school quality between poor and non-poor students. However, financial aid policies should be re-examined, such that poor students receive sufficient coverage. Moreover, given that input-based measures only proxy school quality, the government should consider holding schools accountable for outcomes such as student learning.
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Journal Articles

College is a Rich, Han, Urban, Male Club: Research Notes from a Census Survey of Four Tier One Colleges in China

Xiaobing Wang, Chengfang Liu, Linxiu Zhang, Renfu Luo, Scott Rozelle
China Quarterly , 2013

One’s opportunity to attend college and earn a degree has increased dramatically in China. However, that does not mean that everyone has an equal opportunity. Historically, there has been well-documented systematic discrimination against minorities, women, and the rural poor. The main question of this paper is whether or not this discrimination has persisted since the recent expansion of China’s tertiary education system.

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Journal Articles

Do You Get What You Pay For with School-Based Health Programs? Evidence from a Child Nutrition Experiment in Rural China

Sean Sylvia, Renfu Luo, Linxiu Zhang, Yaojiang Shi, Alexis Medina, Scott Rozelle
Economics of Education Review , 2013

This study uses a randomized controlled trial of a school-based anemia reduction program in rural China to examine how increased school emphasis on health promotion affects academic performance. Although education and health promotion are complementary functions of schools, they do compete for finite school resources. We compare the effects of a traditional program that provided only information about anemia and subsidies to an otherwise identical program that included performance incentives for school principals based on school-level anemia prevalence.

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Journal Articles

Do Poor Students Benefit from China's Merger Program? Transfer Path and Educational Performance

Xinxin Chen, Hongmei Yi, Linxiu Zhang, Di Mo, James Chu, Scott Rozelle
Asia Pacific Journal of Education , 2013

Aiming to provide better education facilities and improve the educational attainment of poor rural students, China’s government has been merging remote rural primary schools to centralized village, town, or county schools since the late 1990s. To accompany the policy, boarding facilities have been constructed that allow (mandate) primary school-aged children to live at school rather than at home. More generally, there also have been efforts to improve rural schools, especially those in counties and towns.

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Journal Articles

Can Information and Counseling Help Students from Poor Rural Areas Go To High School? Evidence from China

Prashant Loyalka, Chengfang Liu, Yingquan Song, Hongmei Yi, Xiaoting Huang, Jianguo Wei, Linxiu Zhang, Yaojiang Shi, James Chu, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Comparative Economics , 2013
Recent studies have shown that only about two-thirds of the students from poor, rural areas in China finish junior high school and enter high school. One factor that may be behind the low rates of high school attendance is that students may be misinformed about the returns to schooling or lack career planning skills. We therefore conduct a cluster-randomized controlled trial (RCT) using a sample of 131 junior high schools and more than 12,000 students to test the effects of providing information on returns or career planning skills on student dropout, academic achievement and plans to go to high school. Contrary to previous studies, we find that information does not have significant effects on student outcomes. Unlike information, counseling does have an effect. However, the effect is somewhat surprising. Our findings suggest that counseling increases dropouts and seems to lower academic achievement. In our analysis of the causal chain, we conclude that financial constraints and the poor quality of education in junior high schools in poor, rural areas (the venue of the study) may be contributing to the absence of positive impacts on student outcomes from information and counseling. The negative effects of counseling on dropout may also be due to the high and growing wages for unskilled labor (high opportunity costs) in China’s transitioning economy. It is possible that when our counseling curriculum informed the students about the reality of how difficult were the requirements for entering academic high school, it may have induced them to revise their benefit-cost calculations and come to the realization that they are better off dropping out and/or working less hard in school.
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