Bridging the gaps: Diverse learning outcomes in Ethiopia, India and Vietnam

Caine Rolleston

Post by Caine Rolleston, Padmini Iyer, Rhiannon Moore, Jack Rossiter & Bridget Azubuike

Educational attainment is as much about where a child goes to school as her home advantage. School systems vary widely in effectiveness – yet there is more nuance in the picture when we examine the overlap between attainment distributions. Despite the large differences in resources and average attainment levels, there are students in Ethiopia whose attainment is as high as in Vietnam. This week, Young Lives has calibrated an internationally comparable test scale which will allow us to examine how school system effectiveness shapes learning across three countries.

Last year, Young Lives went back to school to conduct school effectiveness surveys in Ethiopia, India (Andhra Pradesh and Telangana) and Vietnam. The first round of data collection, carried out at the beginning of the school year, is now complete in all three countries, and data collection at the end of the school year will be complete by July 2017. In each country, we went to schools in the Young Lives sites.  

Maths and English tests were administered to students in Grades 7 and 8 in Ethiopia, Grade 9 in India, and Grade 10 in Vietnam in each country. These are the grades in which we expected to find the majority of the Young Lives Younger Cohort children, who were born in 2001-2. On average, we found that students in the Ethiopia survey were 14.4 years old, 14 in India, and 15.4 in Vietnam. The slightly older age of the Vietnamese students in the survey is important to note when looking at findings from the survey, and we will control for this age gap in future analyses. 

This week, the Young Lives education team have been working together to examine preliminary trends from the Maths tests results from this unique cross-country education dataset. This blog post outlines some of our early findings.

Maths Performance by Country

A 40-item, multiple-choice Maths test was administered to students at the beginning of the school year[i]; 12 items on these tests were common to all three countries. This allowed us to link the Maths tests across the three countries; we put them on a common IRT scale, and fixed the mean at 500 and the standard deviation at 100 (we’ll be sharing country reports with details of methodology soon). The graph below shows the distribution of Maths test scores in the three countries.

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