The paper focuses on how accurate teachers may or may not be in gauging their class’academic abilities. We use a sample of classrooms in three Russian regions to identify sources of mathematics and Russian teachers’ inaccuracies in predicting their high school classes’ scores on Russian and mathematics high stakes college entrance tests (the Unified State Exam, or USE). We test the hypothesis that teachers’ perceptions of their relationship with their classes are good predictors of such inaccuracies. This is important because teachers often focus on their relationship with the class as an end in itself or as a means to engaging students. Good teacher–student relations may indeed result in more students’ learning, but perhaps not nearly as much as teachers believe. We find that both Russian and mathematics teachers make inaccurate predictions of their class’ high stakes examination results based on how they perceive their relationship with their class. Teachers who believe they have a very good relationship with the class significantly overestimate their class’ performance on the USE, and those who perceive a poor relationship, underestimate their class’ performance, although this underestimate is generally not statistically significant.
We use the 2007 SACMEQ data to make traditional “upwardly biased” estimates of teacher and classroom resource correlates of 6th grade student achievement in Swaziland, Kenya, and South Africa using an OLS model, and a “less biased causal” approach using a student fixed effects model. Our fixed effects model exploits the fact that most students in all three countries have different teachers for reading and mathematics. Each student is therefore subject to the “treatment” of different teacher characteristics and classroom resources, yielding a relatively unbiased but rather “stringent” estimate of teacher and classroom effects. Our results suggest that: (a) several important identifiable teacher characteristics and classroom resources affect student achievement in each country; that (b) those characteristics and resources may differ from one national context to another, between male and female students, and across socioeconomic groups of students; and that (c) the “upwardly biased” results generally differ from the “less biased causal” results. We discuss and attempt to explain these differences.
Given the lack of causal evidence from developing countries, we examine the impact of participating in shadow education (private tutoring or other fee-based academic activities outside of formal schooling) on high school student achievement. Specifically, we analyze a unique dataset from Russia using a cross-subject student fixed effects model. We find that shadow education only positively impacts the achievement of high-achieving (and not low-achieving) students. Shadow education also does not lead students to substitute time away from their studies. Instead, our findings suggest that low-achieving students participate in low-quality shadow education which, in turn, contributes to inequality in college access.
Argues that explaining national declines in test scores is as important as explaining increases.
Interviews with Australian experts on reasons for Australia’s large decline in PISA scores.
Uses microdata from PISA and TIMSS scores to test expert explanations for decline.
Finds that decline is pervasive across Australian states and social class groups.
Finds that there is no clear explanation for the large decrease in Australia’s PISA scores.
This paper examines the impact of family income on the results of the newly introduced Unified State Examination (USE) in Russia. We argue that entrants from wealthy households have an advantage in terms of access to higher education, since income positively affects USE scores through a higher level of investment in pre-entry coaching. We have found positive and significant relationships between the level of income and USE results for high school graduates, given equal achievement before coaching. We demonstrate that in general, investment in pre-entry coaching has positive returns, but the most significant type of investment is pre-entry courses. However, such strategy improves USE results only for students from the most affluent households.
This study examines the relationship between student achievement and teaching practices aimed at raising student performance on a high stakes college entrance examination—the Russian Unified State Exam (USE). Data come from a survey of 3000 students conducted in 2010 in three Russian regions, and the analysis employs a student fixed effects method that estimates the impact of mathematics and Russian language teachers’ practices in advanced and basic tracks on students’ exam results. The study finds that the only practices positively affecting test outcomes are greater amounts of subject-specific homework, and that the most effective type of homework differs across tracks.