Education Systems' Effects on Math and Science Achievement

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project examines international efforts to improve student performance and attempts to provide equal opportunities to students from different socio-economic backgrounds. International educational studies such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) provide a unique opportunity for scholars to look at the different aspects of educational systems over time and to examine whether and how they affect countries' mean academic achievement. In the proposed study we will employ all five available waves of TIMSS data for about forty participating countries to examine the extent to which institutional characteristics of countries' educational systems - such as a degree of differentiation, standardization, and privatization - are related to countries' mean math and science achievement scores, and whether these time-variant institutional characteristics moderate the socioeconomic gaps in math and science achievement.

Specifically, we will utilize the 8th grade data from the five available waves of the TIMSS - 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011 - from about forty participating countries to examine how different characteristics of countries' educational systems are related to countries' mean math and science achievement, as well as to socio-economic inequality in this achievement. Our study makes several important contributions to the field. First, we will create a new knowledge base by compiling information from different sources and then coding country-level, time variant institutional characteristics of the countries' educational systems and will examine how these characteristics changed over time. Second, we will examine whether and how the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and academic achievement is moderated by the country level characteristics of the educational systems. Third, we will capture changes in the countries' educational systems over a span of sixteen years, as well as examine whether and how these changes affected the relationships between family SES and math and science achievement.

Our research design allows for a meaningful within- and between-country comparison of academic achievement over time. By employing within country fixed effects models, we will better control for countries' exogenous cultural and social characteristics, thus estimating more accurately the effects of institutional characteristics of educational systems on academic achievement. Future research will benefit from using the data we will create on time-variant characteristics of the educational systems in the studied countries. The findings will aid in the design of policies that aim to reduce inequality in educational outcomes by family SES in the studied countries. The findings will also significantly contribute to our understanding of educational stratification and the role educational institutions play in it.

Effective start/end date9/1/148/31/16


  • National Science Foundation: $130,670.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.