Education

Middle school kids at school desks smiling at each other while wearing glasses.

Education

Shaping China's future generation.

Overview

Education is an essential component of human capital formation and has implications for economic growth, China’s transition to a modern economy, and China’s capacity to compete in 21st century industries. Our Center is among a small number of groups with comprehensive data on multiple key dimensions of China’s education system. This unique position enables us to continue path breaking research on education in China that is relevant to policy makers and educators around the world.

Featured Projects

Three young students wearing headphones and working on desktop computers in a classroom.

Educational Technology

Educational Technology (EdTech) holds abundant promise to narrow China’s -- and the worlds -- educational divide, by possibly bringing many of these resources within reach of rural students. But virtually no research so far has determined what types of platforms are most effective. Our researchers have pioneered evidence based research to determine the effectiveness of EdTech and help policymakers understand the value of extending useful programs to the neediest areas.
REAP Happy teacher

Improving Rural Schooling

We see what happens in the classroom as an integral part of the learning experience. We are intervening to help bring tailored effective solutions to both teachers and students in rural classrooms. Some of our initiatives include extracurricular reading programs, teaching training research, and incentives for teachers programs.
REAP Parenting Center

Early Childhood Development

China's future is in its children, and REAP is working directly with babies and their parents to help them start off on the right foot.

Publications

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Journal Articles

The Impacts of Highly Resourced Vocational Schools on Student Outcomes in China

Guirong Li, Jiajia Xu, Liying Li, Zhaolei Shi, Hongmei Yi, James Chu, Elena Kardanova, Yanyan Li, Prashant Loyalka, Scott Rozelle
China & World Economy , 2020
Policymakers in developing countries have prioritized the mass expansion of vocational education and training (VET). Evidence suggests, however, that the quality of VET can be poor. One possible reason given by policymakers for this is a lack of resources per student. The goal of this study is to examine whether the quality of VET in developing countries increases by investing greater resources per student. To achieve this goal, we examine the impacts of attending model schools (which have far more resources per student) compared with non-model schools (which have fewer resources) on a range of student cognitive, non-cognitive, and behavioral outcomes. Using representative data from a survey of approximately 12,000 VET students from China, multivariate regression and propensity score matching analyses show that there are no significant benefits, in terms of student outcomes, from attending model vocational high schools, despite their substantially greater resources.
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Journal Articles

The Status Quo of Teaching Reading Skills in Rural Primary Schools in China: PIRLS Questionnaires in Guizhou and Jiangxi

Miqi Jia, Qiufeng Gao, Lanxi Peng, Jingchun Nie, Huan Wang, Qian Zhou
Journal of East China Normal University , 2020
早期阅读能力的健康发展有利于提高小学生的学业成绩并改善其长期教育表现。本研究从 学校和教师的角度探究我国农村小学阅读教学现状,为促进农村学生早期阅读发展奠定基础。基于贵 州、江西150 所农村小学调查数据,通过国际比较发现,现阶段我国农村小学阅读教学仍存在教师学历 水平相对较低、阅读培训时间较短、阅读教学基础教材单一、学校培养学生阅读技能时间较晚等不足。 回归结果发现,农村小学阅读教学与学生阅读成绩存在显著正相关关系;教师学历与其参加阅读培训时 长对农村小学生阅读成绩的提高尤为重要。学校应加强教师阅读培训的力度,丰富阅读教学资源,优化 学校阅读环境。
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Journal Articles

Examining Mode Effects for an Adapted Chinese Critical Thinking Assessment

Lin Gu, Guangming Ling, Ou Lydia Liu, Zhitong Yang, Guirong Li, Elena Kardanova, Prashant Loyalka
Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education , 2020
We examine the effects of computer-based versus paper-based assessment of critical thinking skills, adapted from English (in the U.S.) to Chinese. Using data collected based on a random assignment between the two modes in multiple Chinese colleges, we investigate mode effects from multiple perspectives: mean scores, measurement precision, item functioning (i.e. item difficulty and discrimination), response behavior (i.e. test completion and item omission), and user perceptions. Our findings shed light on assessment and item properties that could be the sources of mode effects. At the test level, we find that the computer-based test is more difficult and more speeded than the paper-based test. We speculate that these differences are attributable to the test’s structure, its high demands on reading, and test-taking flexibility afforded under the paper testing mode. Item-level evaluation allows us to identify item characteristics that are prone to mode effects, including targeted cognitive skill, response type, and the amount of adaptation between modes. Implications for test design are discussed, and actionable design suggestions are offered with the goal of minimizing mode effect.
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Journal Articles

Independent Reading in Rural China's Elementary Schools: A Mixed-Methods Analysis

Huan Wang, Hongyu Guan, Hongmei Yi, Emma Seevak, Reid Manheim, Matthew Boswell, Scott Rozelle, Sarah Kotb
International Journal of Educational Development , 2020
Abstract: Independent reading—unassigned reading for personal pleasure—has been shown to be an important driver of reading skills and academic success. Children that commonly read for pleasure exhibit higher academic performance. However, little research has been done on independent reading in rural China, where the education system is charged with schooling tens of millions of students. Many rural students fall behind their urban counterparts in school, with potentially troubling implications for China’s ongoing development. This article explores the prevalence of independent reading and its associations with reading ability and academic performance among rural students. Using a mixed methods approach, we analyze quantitative data from a survey of 13,232 students from 134 rural schools and interviews with students, teachers, principals, and caregivers. We find that independent reading is positively and significantly correlated with reading ability as well as standardized math and Chinese tests scores. Despite such correlations, only 17 percent of students report reading for pleasure for an hour a day. Interview findings suggest that inaccessible bookstores, curriculum constraints, unsupportive home environments, low availability of appealing and level-appropriate books, and insufficient school investment in reading resources may explain the low prevalence of independent reading.
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Journal Articles

Factors Linked to Cultivating Successful Readers: Evidence from Rural China

Nan Wang, Huan Wang, Fang Chang, Feng Lu, Sarah-Eve Dill
International Journal of Educational Research , 2020
In China, education gaps exist not only between rural and urban students, but also within the population of rural students. Evidence points to poor reading skills development as one possible factor in this gap. If reading skills are moderating variations in academic performance among rural students, what factors in the home and school environment lead some students to develop strong reading skills? Using data from 1870 primary school students in rural China, the results show considerable variation in student reading skills. The home environment is strongly linked to reading skills, whereas school factors are not positively associated with reading skills. These findings suggest that policies and programs to support student reading skills are needed in rural China.
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Journal Articles

Teacher Qualifications and Development Outcomes of Preschool Children in Rural China

Lei Wang, Ruirui Dang, Yu Bai, Siqi Zhang, Buyao Liu, Lijuan Zheng, Ning Yang, Chuyu Song
Early Childhood Research Quarterly , 2020
In the preschool period, interactions between teachers and children are an essential input for healthy development. However, it is not well understood how the qualifications of preschool teachers contribute to child development during the preschool period, and previous international studies have returned mixed results. We drew on data from a longitudinal study of 1031 preschool children age 49–65 months in rural China to examine the associations between teacher qualifications and the development of preschool children. The findings showed that 36% of preschool children in the sample are developmentally delayed.Overall, teacher qualifications (education level, specialization in early childhood education, professional ranking, experience and training) were significantly associated with preschool-age child developmental outcomes. Teacher professional ranking and educational attainment were positively and significantly correlated with two measures of child language development, but a degree specialized in early child-hood education was negatively related to vocabulary acquisition. No significant correlations were found between teacher experience or teacher training and child developmental outcomes. The study concludes that policymakers should encourage highly educated and professionally ranked teachers to serve in rural preschools in order to improve the development of preschool children.
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Journal Articles

Large-Scale International Assessments of Learning Outcomes: Balancing the Interests of Multiple Stakeholders

Guirong Li, Irina Shcheglova, Ashutosh Bhuradia, Yanyan Li, Prashant Loyalka, Olivia Zhou, Shangfeng Hu, Ningning Yu, Liping Ma, Fei Guo, Igor Chirikov
Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management , 2020
The demand for large-scale assessments in higher education, especially at an international scale, is growing. A major challenge of conducting these assessments, however, is that they require understanding and balancing the interests of multiple stakeholders (government officials, university administrators, and students) and also overcoming potential unwillingness of these stakeholders to participate. In this paper, we take the experience of the Study of Undergraduate Performance (SUPER) in conducting a large-scale international assessment as a case study. We discuss ways in which we mitigated perceived risks, built trust, and provided incentives to ensure the successful engagement of stakeholders during the study’s implementation.
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Journal Articles

Feeling Bad and Doing Bad: Student Confidence in Reading in Rural China

Qiufeng Gao, Huan Wang, Fang Chang, Qi An, Hongmei Yi, Kaleigh Kenny, Yaojiang Shi
Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education , 2020
This article reports on research conducted to investigate student confidence in reading by collecting data from 135 primary schools in rural China. In the survey, we adopted the PIRLS scales of confidence in reading and reading skills test items. Our analysis shows that compared to the other countries and regions, rural China ranks last with regard to student confidence in reading and reading achievement. The correlation analysis reveals that in rural China there is a strong correlation between student confidence in reading and reading achievement. Additionally, school and teacher factors are associated with student confidence in reading. Specifically, having an accessible classroom library is associated with higher reading confidence, especially among the poor readers. Teacher instruction in reading correlates with higher confidence in readers for high achievers. Our findings indicate that the government should develop effective policies to improve student confidence in reading and reading skills in rural China.
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Journal Articles

Depressive Symptoms and the Link with Academic Performance among Rural Taiwanese Children

Yujuan Gao, Derek Hu, Evan Peng, Cody Abbey, Yue Ma, Chyi-In Wu, Chia-Yuan Chang, Wei-Ting Hung, Scott Rozelle
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , 2020
Previous studies reflect a high prevalence of depressive symptoms among Taiwanese adolescents (ages 13–18), but there is an absence of literature related to the risk of depression of children in Taiwan (ages 6–12), particularly among potentially vulnerable subgroups. To provide insight into the distribution of depressive symptoms among children in rural Taiwan and measure the correlation between academic performance, we conducted a survey of 1655 randomly selected fourth and fifth-grade students at 92 sample schools in four relatively low-income counties or municipalities. Using the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) we assessed the prevalence of depressive symptoms in this sample, in addition to collecting other data, such as performance on a standardized math test as well as information on a number of individual and household characteristics. We demonstrate that the share of children with clinically significant symptoms is high: 38% of the students were at risk of general depression (depression score ≥ 16) and 8% of the students were at risk of major depression (depression score > 28). The results of the multivariate regression and heterogeneous analysis suggest that poor academic performance is closely associated with a high prevalence of depressive symptoms. Among low-performing students, certain groups were disproportionately affected, including girls and students whose parents have migrated away for work. Results also suggest that, overall, students who had a parent who was an immigrant from another country were at greater risk of depression. These findings highlight the need for greater resource allocation toward mental health services for elementary school students in rural Taiwan, particularly for at-risk groups. 
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Journal Articles

The Impact of Pay-for-Percentile Incentive on Low-Achieving Students in Rural China

Fang Chang, Huan Wang, Yaqiong Qu, Qiang Zheng, Prashant Loyalka, Sean Sylvia, Yaojiang Shi, Sarah-Eve Dill, Scott Rozelle
Economics of Education Review , 2020
In some accountability regimes, teachers pay more attention to higher achieving students at the expense of lower achieving students. The overall goal of this study is to examine, in this type of accountability regime, the impacts of a pay-for-percentile type scheme in which incentives exist for all students but which are larger for improving the achievement of lower achieving students. Analyzing data from a large-scale randomized experiment in rural China, we find that incentives improve average achievement by 0.10 SDs and the achievement of low-achieving students by 0.15 SDs. We find parallel changes in teacher behavior and curricular coverage. Taken together, the results demonstrate that incentive schemes can effectively address teacher neglect of low-achieving students.
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Journal Articles

Reading Achievement in China's Rural Primary Schools: A Study of Three Provinces

Qiufeng Gao, Huan Wang, Fang Chang, Hongmei Yi, Yaojiang Shi
Educational Studies , 2019
This paper aims to explore and quantify the reading achievement of primary school students from three different regions in rural China. Using survey data on 23,143 students from Shaanxi, Guizhou, and Jiangxi provinces, we find although gaps in student reading achievement exist among the three sample provinces, all sample students exhibit low levels of reading achievement. Compared to students from other countries that participated in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study reading tests, our sample students from rural China ranked last. Our regression analysis documented strong correlations between reading achievement and maths performance exist among the sample students in rural China. Additionally, we find male students, students with rural household registration, boarding students, and students from relatively poor families are more susceptible to having worse reading outcomes. Overall, our findings indicate the government should develop more effective policies to support reading skill development in China, especially in rural areas.
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Journal Articles

The Prevalence of Parent-Teacher Interaction in Developing Countries and its Effect on Student Outcomes

Guirong Li, Millie Lin, Chengfang Liu, Angela Johnson, Yanyan Li, Prashant Loyalka
Teaching and Teacher Education , 2019

Empirical evidence from developed countries supports the idea that parent-teacher interaction is high and improves student outcomes. The evidence from developing countries is, however, decidedly mixed. Using longitudinal data from nearly 6000 students and their 600 teachers in rural China, we show the prevalence of parent-teacher interaction is generally much lower than that of developed countries. We also show parent-teacher interaction, when it exists, can have positive effects on raising academic achievement and reducing learning anxiety. We demonstrate that the prevalence and effectiveness of parent-teacher interaction in a developing country context varies considerably due to both demand-side and supply-side factors.

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Journal Articles

Stuck in Place? A Field Experiment on the Effects of Reputational Information on Student Evaluations

James Chu, Guirong Li, Prashant Loyalka, Chengfang Liu, Leonardo Rosa, Yanyan Li
Oxford Academic , 2019

Studies suggest that students’ prior performance can shape subsequent teacher evaluations, but the magnitude of reputational effects and their implications for educational inequality remain unclear. Existing scholarship presents two major perspectives that exist in tension: do teachers primarily use reputational information as a temporary signal that is subsequently updated in response to actual student performance? Or do teachers primarily use reputational information as a filter that biases perception of subsequent evidence, thus crystallizing student reputations and keeping previously poor-performing students stuck in place? In a field experiment, we recruited a random sample of 832 junior high school teachers from the second-most populous province of China to grade a sequence of four essays written by the same student, and we randomly assign both the academic reputation of the student and the quality of the essays produced. We find that (1) reputational information influences how teachers grade, (2) teachers rely on negative information more heavily than positive information, and (3) negative reputations are crystallized by a single behavioral confirmation. These results suggest that students can escape their prior reputations, but to do so, they must contradict them immediately, with a single confirmation sufficient to crystallize a negative reputation.

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Journal Articles

Does Teacher Training Actually Work? Evidence from a Large-Scare Randomized Evaluation of a National Teacher Training Program

Anna Popova, Guirong Li, Zhaolei Shi
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics , 2019
Despite massive investments in teacher professional development (PD) programs in developing countries, there is little evidence on their effectiveness. We present results of a large-scale, randomized evaluation of a national PD program in China in which teachers were randomized to receive PD; PD plus follow-up; PD plus evaluation of the command of PD content; or no PD. Precise estimates indicate PD and associated interventions failed to improve teacher and student outcomes after one year. A detailed analysis of the causal chain shows teachers find PD content to be overly theoretical, and PD delivery too rote and passive, to be useful.
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Journal Articles

The Impact of Teacher Professional Development Programs on Student Achievement in Rural China: Evidence from Shaanxi Province

Meichen Lu, Yaojiang Shi, Fang Chang, Chengfang Liu, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Development Effectiveness , 2019

There is a significant gap in academic achievement between rural and urban students in China. Policymakers have sought to close this gap by improving the quality of teaching in rural areas through teacher professional development (PD) programs. However, there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of such programs. In this paper, we evaluate the impact of a PD program-National Teacher Training Program (NTTP)  and find that the NTTP has no effect on math achievement. We also find that while the program has a positive effect on math teaching knowledge of teachers, it has no significant effect on teaching practices in the classroom. Taken together, these results indicate that teachers may have improved their knowledge for teaching from NTTP, but did not apply what they learned to improve teaching practices or student learning.

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Journal Articles

Pay by Design: Teacher Performance Pay Design and the Distribution of Student Achievement

Sean Sylvia, Chengfang Liu, James Chu, Yaojiang Shi
Journal of Labor Economics , 2019

Abstract: We present results of a randomized trial testing alternative approaches of mapping student achievement into rewards for teachers. Teachers in 216 schools in western China were assigned to performance pay schemes where teacher performance was assessed by one of three different methods. We find that teachers offered “pay-for-percentile” incentives (Barlevy and Neal 2012) outperform teachers offered simpler schemes based on class average achievement or average gains over a school year. Moreover, pay-for-percentile incentives produced broad-based gains across students within classes. That teachers respond to relatively intricate features of incentive schemes highlights the importance of close attention to performance pay design. 

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Journal Articles

Better Cognition, Better School Performance? Evidence from Primary Schools in China

Qiran Zhao, Xiaobing Wang, Scott Rozelle
China Economic Review , 2019

Although students in rural and migrant schools in China generally have not performed well, a share of each cohort has been able to thrive in school and to test into academic high school and college. To understand the origins of persistence, specifically, why some students learn more than do others, researchers have identified certain sources of the problem. Few studies, however, have paid attention to the role that low levels of cognitive development of students play in their academic performance.

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Journal Articles

Old is Not Always Better: Evidence from Five Randomized Experiments in Rural Primary Schools in China

Lili Li, Fang Chang, Yaojiang Shi, Scott Rozelle
Journal of Development Effectiveness , 2019

In recent years, researchers have begun to focus attention on trying to identify systematic factors that cause interventions to have different impacts in different contexts. In this paper, we seek to understand whether the age of principals at schools implementing nutrition-based interventions has an impact on program outcomes. To explore the relative effectiveness of younger and older school principals, we use data from five large-scale, nutrition-related randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 12,595 primary school students in 336 schools in rural China. Our results, using two age cut-offs for distinguishing young principals from old ones, indicate that improvements in the health and nutrition outcomes of students were significantly higher in schools with younger principals than in schools run by older principals (when using a cutoff of 40 years old). When using a cut-off of 45 years old, the point estimates of the impacts similarly suggest that young principals are more effective, although the results are not significantly significant. The results are similar when we look at the impact of disaggregated interventions in schools managed by young and old principals. The findings are clear that the interventions implemented by older principals are not more effective than those implemented by younger principals.

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Journal Articles

Can Bureaucrats Really be Paid like CEOs? Substitution Between Incentives and Resources Among School Administrators in China

Renfu Luo, Grant Miller, Scott Rozelle, Sean Sylvia, Marcos Vera-Hernández
Journal of the European Economic Association , 2019

Unlike performance incentives for private sector managers, little is known about performance incentives for managers in public sector bureaucracies. Through a randomized trial in rural China, we study performance incentives rewarding school administrators for reducing student anemia -- as well as complementarity between incentives and orthogonally assigned discretionary resources. Large (but not small) incentives and unrestricted grants both reduced anemia, but incentives were more cost-effective. Although unrestricted grants and small incentives do not interact, grants fully crowd-out the effect of larger incentives. Our findings suggest that performance incentives can be effective in bureaucratic environments, but they are not complementary to discretionary resources. 

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Journal Articles

Do Resources Matter? Effects of an In-Class Library Project on Student Independent Reading Habits in Primary Schools in Rural China

Hongmei Yi, Di Mo, Huan Wang, Qiufeng Gao, Yaojiang Shi, Paiou Wu, Cody Abbey, Scott Rozelle
Reading Research Quarterly , 2018

It is commonly believed that reading challenges should be addressed early to reduce the likelihood that developmental delays will impact students over the long term. However, students in developing countries often have limited access to reading resources. In this study, the authors used a randomized controlled trial of 11,083 fourth‐ and fifth‐grade students in 120 primary schools in rural China to examine the causal effect of an in‐class library program on student reading outcomes and academic achievement in schools with poor reading resources over an eight‐month period. An in‐class library was installed in each of the selected classes in the 40 treatment schools. The authors found that the program significantly improved student affinity toward reading and student reading habits, and in these regards, it narrowed the gap between male and female students, between low‐ and high‐performing students, and between left‐behind children and children living with parents. However, the authors found no overall effect of the program on reading and academic achievement and a negative effect on student confidence in reading. There was also no effect on student, teacher, and primary caregiver perceptions toward the effect of independent reading on academic achievement, nor any effect on whether teachers and primary caregivers provided reading instructions to students. The authors propose three possible explanations for these findings: a lack of reading instruction from teachers and caregivers, a lack of reading materials specifically tailored to local needs and interests, and the relatively short duration of the intervention.

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Journal Articles

Math and Chinese-Language Learning: Where Are China’s Vulnerable Subpopulations?

Lei Wang, Wenbin Min, Siqi Zhang, Yaojiang Shi, Scott Rozelle
Asian Survey , 2018
This paper seeks to understand the learning outcomes that prevail across key subpopulations in China today. Data from a nationally representative survey show that rural youth are two years behind urban children in math and Chinese. Non-Han minorities, children in poorer counties, and children with less-educated parents are the most vulnerable.
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Journal Articles

Teachers' Influence on Purchase and Wear of Children's Glasses in Rural China: The PRICE Study

Xiuqin Wang, Yue Ma, Mi Hu, Ling Jin, Baixiang Xiao, Ming Ni, Hongmei Yi , Xiaochen Ma, Congyao Wang, Beatrice Varga, Yiwen Huang, Scott Rozelle , Nathan Congdon
Clinical & Experimental Ophthalmology , 2018
Importance:Uncorrected refractive error causes 90% of poor vision among Chinese children. Background:Little is known about teachers' influence on children's glasses wear. Design:Cohort study. Participants:Children at 138 randomly selected primary schools in Guangdong and Yunnan provinces, China, with uncorrected visual acuity (VA)≤6/12 in either eye correctable to >6/12 in both eyes, and their teachers. Methods:Teachers and children underwent VA testing and completed questionnaires about spectacles use and attitudes towards children's vision. Main Outcome Measures:Children's acceptance of free glasses, spectacle purchase and wear. Results: A total of 882 children (mean age 10.6 years, 45.5% boys) and276 teachers (mean age 37.9 years, 67.8% female) participated. Among teachers,20.4% (56/275) believed glasses worsened children's vision, 68.4% (188/275) felt eye exercises prevented myopia, 55.0% (151/275) thought children with modest myopia should not wear glasses and 93.1% (256/275) encouraged children to obtain glasses.Teacher factors associated with children's glasses-related behaviour included believing glasses harm children's vision (decreased purchase, univariate model: relative risk [RR] 0.65, 95% CI 0.43, 0.98,P
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Journal Articles

Can Reading Programs Improve Reading Skills and Academic Performance in Rural China?

Qiufeng Gao, Huan Wang, Di Mo, Yaojiang Shi, Kaleigh Kenny, Scott Rozelle
China Economic Review , 2018

In this paper, we attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of reading programs at improving the reading skills and academic achievement of primary school students in rural China. Using survey data on 4108 students, we find that students exhibited low levels of reading achievement, independent reading quantity, and reading confidence in the absence of any treatment. However, our results also suggest that properly designed treatments may improve the reading and academic outcomes of students.

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Journal Articles

Stereotype Threat and Educational Tracking: A Field Experiment in Chinese Vocational High Schools

James Chu, Prashant Loyalka, Guirong Li, Liya Gao, Yao Song
Socius , 2018

Educational tracks create differential expectations of student ability, raising concerns that the negative stereotypes associated with lower tracks might threaten student performance. The authors test this concern by drawing on a field experiment enrolling 11,624 Chinese vocational high school students, half of whom were randomly primed about their tracks before taking technical skill and math exams. As in almost all countries, Chinese students are sorted between vocational and academic tracks, and vocational students are stereotyped as having poor academic abilities. Priming had no effect on technical skills and, contrary to hypotheses, modestly improved math performance. In exploring multiple interpretations, the authors highlight how vocational tracking may crystallize stereotypes but simultaneously diminishes stereotype threat by removing academic performance as a central measure of merit. Taken together, the study implies that reminding students about their vocational or academic identities is unlikely to further contribute to achievement gaps by educational track.

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Journal Articles

Ability Tracking and Social Trust in China's Rural Secondary School System

Fan Li, Hongmei Yi, Yaojiang Shi, Natalie Johnson, Scott Rozelle
School Effectiveness and School Improvement , 2018

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.

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