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Regular version of the site

Economics of Higher Education Development

2011
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The study was conducted in two research areas:
1.  The contribution of education reforms to the development of students’ skills in solving problems of different types.
2.  Assessment of relations between students, teachers characteristics, educational practices used by them and the results of the Unified State Exam (USE).

The study results of each area are presented in separate parts of report.
Area 1. The contribution of education reforms in the development of students’ skills to solve problems of different types.

The focus of the study:
Educational policy and its impact on changing results of TIMSS and PISA.

Aim:
- To estimate an impact of educational reforms and socio-economic factors on students' achievements in large-scale assessment programs and their ability to solve different type of tasks in general in 9 post-communist countries.
- To identify the most important school teachers' characteristics affecting Russian pupils' achievement in TIMSS.

Data:
For the first aim TIMSS data (IEA Study Data Repository http://rms.iea-dpc.org), cycles: 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and PISA (http://www.pisa.oecd.org), cycles: 2000, 2003, 2006 was used for Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia.

To realize the second aim, we used TIMSS 2007 Russian data.

Main results:
In the last 15 years in all 9 post-communist countries the results of TIMSS (math and science) have been decreasing; also the variation between these countries decreased.  The achievement level in PISA (reading, math and science) is more consistent during the period of observations.
School level information from PISA and TIMSS is quite often subject to social desirability and low inter-rater agreement. So factual information rather than self-appraisal should be used.
Descriptive information from countries’ encyclopedias (IEA) is usually about intentions. So it cannot be used when the research question concerns implementation or attainment. Or it is necessary to carry out additional research that can provide standardized and comparable data
There is a lack of information on social and economic context (socio-economic data from The World Bank, UNESCO, etc. and country encyclopedias (IEA), especially concerning non-European countries. So this makes it difficult to carry out comparative research using only this information.
There is a lack of specific information about teachers' characteristics in TIMSS questionnaire. For example it would be very useful if researchers had an opportunity to distinguish teachers who graduated from educational schools as opposed to those who studied at universities.
Suggestions for extending the research have been defined: it is worth including teachers' class practices. However it is necessary to keep in mind the results of first part of the study about social desirability and other plausible problems.

Application area:
Educational policy
Research in education

Area 2. Assessment of relations between students, teachers characteristics, educational practices used by them and the results of the USE
The main research question is how students’ background, teachers’ characteristics and educational practices affect students’ academic achievements? Which practices bring the most gain to different groups of students?
The methodology of analysis included “quasi value added” regression models and the model known as as “first difference”. All these models were used, correcting the error terms for clustering.
Thus the effect of different non-observed students’ characteristics was fixed and the bias problem was solved.

The analysis was based on the data of the sociological survey conducted in May 2010 in 4 provinces. There were 4 groups of respondents: 11th grade students, their math teachers, the Russian language teachers and the school principals. The students’ Unified State Exam (USE) scores in math and in Russian language were collected as well. The sample represented the 11 grade students in each province.
As a result, the authors proved that students and teachers are not randomly assigned to classrooms.

The connection between students’ background characteristics, teachers’ professional experience and educational practices with students’ academic achievements was described. It was revealed that teachers have significant effect on students’ academic achievements.

Finally according to the analysis results for lessening the difference between Russian language and math exam scores it is very significant to raise the professional experience of the maths teachers. In this way, an increase in the average USE math score can be seen.

Application area:
Educational policy
Research in education