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ERIC Number: ED567623
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
"The Impacts of Introducing Accountability: Evidence from a Randomized Field Trial in Vocational Schools in China"
Loyalka, Prashant; Li, Guirong; Yi, Hongmei; Johnson, Natalie; Shi, Henry
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
As demand for skilled labor increases, policymakers in an increasing number of developing countries have turned toward vocational education and training (VET) to educate and prepare students. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published a 2012 report "acknowledging the need for [VET] to contribute to economic growth, social equity and inclusion, as well as to sustainable transformation." The Asian Development Bank (ADB) stated that VET is necessary to "promote equitable social development" (ADB, 2009). Countries in the Asia Pacific region, such as Indonesia, Vietnam, and Nepal, have rapidly increased enrollments in vocational high schools since the early 2000s (Ministry of National Education of Indonesia, 2006; Government of Vietnam, 2009; Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training of Nepal, 2014). Internationally, China has been one of the most ambitious promoters of VET. As China's economy continues to grow and jobs require more skills, Chinese policymakers have deemed VET important for developing human capital and giving students skills they need for future employment (Fang, 2009; Zhang et al, 2013). The State Council has promoted a policy agenda that emphasizes the important role of VET in powering China's economic development (China State Council, 2002, 2005, 2014). Indeed, the Chinese government increased annual investments in vocational high school education six-fold between 1990 and 2011 (CNBS, 1991, 2012). Across the same period, student enrollment increased dramatically, reaching 20 million students as of 2012 (or 46% of all high school students in China--CNBS, 2012). Statements by leading figures in the central government suggest that expanding VET will continue to be a major priority in China going forward into the next decade (China State Council, 2014). However, available evidence suggests that while levels of investment in VET are high, this increased investment is not translating into better student outcomes. On the one hand, a recent large-scale study systematically examined the level and types of inputs into the VET system and found that absolute investment is high and meets official government benchmarks for school facilities, teacher qualifications and basic curricular standards (Yi et al., 2013). On the other hand, studies have demonstrated that students in VET schools make few, if any, absolute gains in academic, vocational, or non-cognitive skills and abilities (Loyalka et al., 2015). Recent impact evaluations further show that major government initiatives to essentially double the level of school resources per student in some schools or provide training and certification for VET teacher have no positive impact on student outcomes (Li et al, 2015; Johnston et al, 2015). Although providing greater school inputs (expenditures or more highly trained teachers) has no discernible impact on student outcomes, it is possible that increasing the accountability of VET schools (to better use existing resources for the purpose of improving student outcomes) may have a positive impact. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether introducing an accountability system for vocational schools in China can improve student outcomes. Specifically, the authors seek to examine whether introducing such a system improves: (1) students' vocational skills; (2) students' academic skills; (3) students' non-cognitive abilities; (4) student graduation rates (as opposed to dropout rates); and (5) the quality of students' internship experiences. The authors seek to examine not only whether introducing an accountability system improves student outcomes but also how/why and for what types of students. Initial results show that introducing the accountability system had a positive impact on a number of student outcomes. Vocational skills improved by approximately 0.2 SDs. Academic skills improved by approximately 0.15 SDs. Dropouts were reduced by 4 percentage points (or approximately 15%). There is tentative evidence (that the authors are still exploring) that internship experiences improved. [SREE documents are structured abstracts of SREE conference symposium, panel, and paper or poster submissions.]
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: China