Sept. 3, 2014 Prashant Loyalka and Hongmei YI

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1 Role of Impact Evaluation: Evaluating Expansion of Vocational Education and Laying the Foundation for Further Vocational Education/Upper Secondary School Evaluation Sept. 3, 2014 Prashant Loyalka and Hongmei YI 1

2 Plan of Talk Motivation: Why in Asia s (and rest of world s) rapidly developing countries, helping kids go to and thrive in high school is important In this presentation: High School includes both: Academic High School and VET Problem (why kids aren t in high school) Roles of Impact Evaluation: How to keep students in school (avoid drop out) How to get kids in school (VET and High School) Assess Quality of VET (vs. Academic High School Measure Returns to VET education 2

3 Limitations Our research is focused on China But should be applicable to many other rapidly developing and middle income countries in Asia and the rest of the world We will not be looking at measuring returns to VET important but, we have not done this yet on our future research agenda 3

4 I. Motivation: Why do children in rapidly developing and middle income countries need to be in high school (including VET) 4

5 One of the biggest challenges in China and other middle income Asian countries today China (and other Asian countries) are still growing fast Labor is becoming in shorter supply These countries (like China) have to diversify and move into higher productivity industries 5

6 BUT China (and many other countries) are NOT ready to move up the productivity ladder 6

7 Expanding higher productivity industries will require more highly skilled labor If an individual wants to hold a stable and high wage job in the coming decades, he/she will need to acquire math, language, English, computer skills taught at a high school level or higher. 7

8 Most of this potential skilled labor in Asian For example: in China countries is in rural areas Roughly 172 million children (0-14) grow up in China s rural areas (NBS, 2010) They are China s future workforce, and make up 78% of all school-aged children 8

9 Unfortunately, students in poor, rural areas are not gaining the skills they need to be ready for the new economy 9

10 From our data in China: Probability of a child from a poor rural area going to college (relative to child from the city) Times (x) Urban 11x Poor Rural Urban 7x Poor Rural 0 Any college Elite College 10

11 Perhaps even more serious: The High School Gap % of students that go to high school Today Millions of poor, rural kids not going on to high school! 11

12 Poor, rural kids drop out of junior high school in large numbers % Dropout (Cumulative) Seventh Grade Eighth Grade Ninth Grade 12

13 What happens if rural children are not educated? For the individual Very low-income jobs Unemployment Social exclusion For the country Social instability Stagnant economy 13

14 II. Problem 14

15 Why aren t poor, rural kids staying in school right now? 1. It s costly to go to school 2. Students lack guidance 3. Students face a competitive education system 15

16 Reason #1 IT S COSTLY TO GO TO SCHOOL 16

17 $ USD High School Tuition Levels around the world 各 国 高 中 每 年 的 学 费 ( 美 圆 ) [and high opportunity costs because of rising wages to unskilled labor] China China Germany Belgium France UK Poland Romania Canada Unied States Australia India Indonesia Iran Phillippines Turkey Vietnam Argentina Brazil Chile Dominican Republic 25 0 Mexico Nicaragua Peru Uruguay Benin Ethiopia Kenya Lesotho Tanzania Uganda Liu et al.,

18 $ USD High School Tuition Levels around the world 各 国 高 中 每 年 的 学 费 ( 美 圆 ) [and high opportunity costs because of rising wages to unskilled labor] China Indonesia and Vietnam also charge significant levels of tuition China Germany Belgium France UK Poland Romania Canada Unied States Australia India Indonesia Iran Phillippines Turkey Vietnam Argentina Brazil Chile Dominican Republic 25 0 Mexico Nicaragua Peru Uruguay Benin Ethiopia Kenya Lesotho Tanzania Uganda Liu et al.,

19 Reason #2 STUDENTS LACK GUIDANCE 19

20 Students don t receive enough guidance 260 million rural residents (60% of the entire rural population) have migrated to the cities in search of work, often leaving their children behind. Even when parents are home, they do not know how to help students prepare for high school/college, having never gone to high school themselves. 20

21 Reason #3 STUDENTS FACE A COMPETITIVE EDUCATION SYSTEM 21

22 Students face a highly competitive education system China (as well as many other Asian countries) has limited spots & highly competitive entrance exams for both academic HS & college. And poor, rural students score lower on tests 22

23 III. Role of Impact Evaluation in Rapidly Developing Countries What policy experiments / impact evaluations has the project done to find effective ways to help kids go to and thrive in high school (including VET)? 23

24 Tackling Problem #1: It s Costly to Go to School 24

25 Making Schooling Affordable Early Commitment of Financial Aid (ECFA) experiment Intervention 1. Securing a Future Paying junior high students to attend high school 25

26 SAMPLING 15 poor counties were selected from one western province (Shaanxi) and one northern province (Hebei) in China 132 rural junior high schools were enrolled th grade students and th grade students 26

27 Approach: Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Step 1: Baseline Survey (200.10) Identify the poorest 4 students from each class Step 2: Radom assignment ( ) Randomly assign the poor students into treatment & control groups

28 By random assignment, we create two identical groups in our experiment before intervention Treatment: Get ECFA letter Control: Don t get ECFA letter 28

29 Approach: Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Step 1: Baseline Survey (200.10) Identify the poorest 4 students from each class Step 2: Radom assignment ( ) Randomly assign the poor students into treatment & control groups Step 3: Intervention: Pass out ECFA letter to students in treatment group

30 Intervention: We Passed out ECFA letters to students in treatment group 30

31 Approach: Randomized Control Trials (RCT) Step 1: Baseline Survey (200.10) Identify the poorest 4 students from each class Step 2: Radom assignment ( ) Randomly assign the poor students into treatment & control groups Step 3: Intervention: Pass out ECFA letter to students in treatment group Step 4: Follow-up survey(2011)

32 Relative to the control group, the ECFA made 7 th grade student want to go to high school by 17 percentage points ( 25percent) 0.17 P<

33 Relative to the control group, the CCT made 9 th graders actually go to high school more by 8 percentage points (this is an increase of nearly 20 percent) CONTROL TREATMENT 33

34 In summary The Early Commitment of Financial Aid (ECFA) Makes 7 th graders want to go to high school more Causes 9 th graders to matriculate to high school more ECFAs are especially effective for students who: are poor are performing at the middle of the score distribution Those who perform very well always go Those who are at the bottom of the distribution do not go 34

35 Tackling Problem #2: Students Lack Guidance 35

36 Providing Guidance Intervention/Experiment 2: Information and Career Counseling 36

37 Students may not know the benefits of attending school If perceived benefits of school is not actual benefits, it will distort students choice on schooling. Previous studies indicate that students in poor, rural areas tend to be less informed about the returns to education In other countries like Madagascar and Haiti, simply telling students about the returns to education can keep them in school! 37

38 Our Objective Information/counseling might be a new cost-effective tool to help kids go to high school, but let s see if it works 38

39 PROJECT SITES HEBEI Beijing SHAANXI Xi an 39

40 Interventions ( ) Information Intervention: You will earn more money if you graduate from high school! Counseling Intervention: You will earn more money if you graduate from high school! + Here is what you need to do to go to high school! 40

41 We created three identical groups of students Information group Counseling group Control group ( business as usual ) 41

42 Results: Information and Counseling have NO impact on dropout, achievement, and plans and counseling even encourages dropout! perhaps because students in counseling group learned about the competitive education system from the counseling 0 DROPOUT ACHIEVEMENT PLANS FOR HIGH SCHOOL information counseling control group 42

43 Ongoing work Even though counseling did not work, when the policymakers heard the results, they told us that counseling was still needed just a different kind Students had the information, they just lacked the support and guidance to act on the information Now we are beginning to look at life counseling in which student receive scripted life skills lessons 43

44 Tackling Problem #3: Students face a highly competitive education system 44

45 Intervention 3: National policy expanding VET programs in China 45

46 VET is the government s proposed solution for students who could not enter the competitive high school track Vocational high school (non competitive) Academic high school (competitive) 46

47 Policymakers see vocational schooling as an alternative to academic high school Their strong interest has resulted in the expansion of vocational high school enrollments from 11.7 million to 22.1 million in the last decade 47

48 Billions (in Yuan) Annual investments in vocational school of 140 billion yuan (22.6 billion dollars)

49 But the problem is that policymakers don t know if vocational schooling helps students Does vocational schooling help students learn specific skills? (the main goal of vocational schooling) Does vocational schooling help students learn general skills? (e.g. math, which they will need to use for the rest of their lives) 49

50 Our Study: We collected information on 10,071 academic and vocational high school students in one non-poor, eastern province (Zhejiang) and one poor, western province (Shaanxi). ZHEJIANG SHAANXI 50

51 Baseline survey We collected information from: Students in computer majors in vocational high schools (they take a lot of computer classes this is their SPECIFIC skill) Regular students in nonelite, academic high schools (they take one computer class) 51

52 At the end of the academic year, we gave the same math (general skills) and computer (specific skills) exams Start of the year End of the year 52

53 FINDING 1: Relative to academic high school students, vocational students are losing in both specific and general skills MATH COMPUTER Vocational High School Academic High School

54 Of course, this lack of learning may be not the fault of vocational schools We are not comparing apples to apples because kids who go to vocational school are different from kids who go to academic high school. 54

55 To address this issue, we use a regression discontinuity design (and matching): Vocational high school student Academic high school student 55

56 FINDING 2: Attending a vocational high school reduces general skills by 0.29 SD with no gains in specific skills (relative to attending academic high school) MATH COMPUTER DROPOUT VET Academic High School 56

57 Why? Causal Chain analysis Using mixed methods 57

58 From in-depth in-school observations: Here s how teachers and principals explained the situation Do I like this school? I am planning to leave as soon as I can. I ve been a principal for 30 years now so I don t even care if I m fired I can tell you that of every dollar going to vocational high school, half of that lines somebody s pockets. 58

59 But nothing explained what was happening better than going to a school and seeing what kids were learning Time and time again, our enumerators recorded that students were playing games (Counterstrike) and chatting on the Internet (using software called QQ). Teachers were neither engaging the students nor bothering to discipline them 59

60 In addition to classroom observations, we conducted a series of Interviews To further understand how students perceived vocational schools, we conducted a series of more than 50 interviews. I can learn in a factory what vocational schools are offering, without being scammed by the schools! The results formed the basis of very powerful media reports coming out 60

61 Vocational high schools are not a viable alternative path (yet) Taken together, our findings indicate that vocational high school fails to build necessary general skills and does little to improve specific skills Many problems: No standard curriculum No standard way of recruiting No evaluation or assessment Really bad reputation 61

62 Summary of my talk It is important to keep kids in school in middle income and rapidly developing countries There are many problems Impact Evaluation can help: Identify ways to get kids into school Keep students from dropping out Identify the quality of VET institutions Measure returns to VET (but did not cover here) 62

63 Thank you! reap.stanford.edu 63

64 How is REAP using these findings to affect policy change and public discourse? 64

65 Example #1: CCTs We sent policymakers a policy brief about our findings The policy brief was approved and signed into action The government is now giving more financial aid to kids to go to high school We can t know if it was exactly because of our policy brief, but our work was the only rigorous evidence showing the importance of giving financial aid early. 65

66 Example #2: Vocational Schools Reporting on results about vocational schools has already generated great interest from the State Council and Ministry of Education After seeing the results on China Education Daily, our team immediately received a phone call from the Ministry of Education: We know there s a problem we re working on it how do you suggest we change the system? This just happened right before spring festival (two weeks ago!). Now that everyone is coming back to work, there is more action and interest in our work 66

67 Working in partnership with both local government and industry We are now partnering with Apple Inc., Dell Inc., and the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to build an standardized assessment tool to measure school quality. Schools who do not pass the assessment will not be allowed to send interns to the electronics industry. The Henan provincial government recently heard of this effort and wants to use the assessment tool when it is developed. 67

68 Policy briefs We have submitted three policy briefs that were signed into action (that is, top officials have distributed the ideas and required policymakers to incorporate them): Ensuring Access to Quality High School Education in Poor Rural Areas, Dropout among Junior High Students in Poor Rural Areas of China: Facts and Policy Recommendations, Not So Fast: Why the Implementation of Free Tuition Policies for Vocational Schools Should Not Happen Just Yet In submission: Suggestions to Improve the Quality and Development of Vocational Schooling in China 68

69 Policy Workshops In addition to policy briefs, we also conducted a series of training workshops to inform policymakers about our results and concrete ideas of how to act on them 400+ government officials and directors of education participated 3+training workshops regarding our results 69

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