GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Title of Paper:
Educational Inequality in the Gulf States: Analysis of Socioeconomic Gradients and Policy Implications
Paper Proposal Text :
Background and Key Questions: The relatively poor performance of Gulf eighth graders in the TIMSS 2007 has been well-documented; however, little is known about the distributional pattern of this low achievement within countries. How does the relationship between socioeconomic status and achievement work in these countries? This study aims to analyze educational inequality in the Gulf countries that participated in the TIMSS (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia) by examining the socioeconomic gradients in greater detail. In this case, the socioeconomic gradient describes the relationship mathematics achievement and socioeconomic status for students within schools and countries. The level, slope, and strength of the gradient indicate the extent to which there is variation in mathematics performance at different levels of SES or family background. These gradients are starting points for a more thorough analysis of the relationships between schooling input and processes and the resulting outcomes (Wilms, 2006). To address questions of equity of schools and schooling systems in these countries, I ask: 1) To what extent do countries and schools vary in their educational performance? 2) Is there a significant relationship between math performance and SES? 3) To what extent do schools vary in their outcomes after taking into account student and school SES? 4) Is there variation within and among schools attributable to levels of school resources and to school and classroom policy and practices? 5) How does the situation in the Gulf states compare to other Arab, non-Gulf countries?
Methodology: Using 2007 TIMSS mathematics achievement data for 8th grade, two-level multilevel framework will be used to test hypotheses associated with the questions above. For example, to test whether there is a positive relationship between family SES and academic performance, the following model will be used:
Y_ij=β_(0j )+β_1j 〖SES〗_ij+r_ij Student level (level 1)
β_(0j )= β_0j= γ_(00 )+μ_0j Class level (level 2)
β_1j= γ_(10 )+μ_1j
Where Y_i is a person’s outcome score, 〖SES〗_i is their standardized score on the SES measure. β_(0 )is intercept, or expected score for a person who has a score of zero on 〖SES〗_i. β_1 is the slope of the socioeconomic gradient. β_(0 )is the level. The strength is R2, the difference between the variance in Y_i and the variance of the residuals expressed as a fraction of the variance in Y_i. The gradient hypothesis is that the average socioeconomic gradient is statistically significant, that is, the γ_(10 )is significantly different from zero and is tested with the following hypothesis test:
H_0: γ_(10 )=0 (5)
H_1: γ_(10 )≠0

Policy Implications: Results from this study will address issues of within-country inequalities in educational performance. Any educational policy reform must take into account the existing inequalities and must be context-appropriate. This study would also address whether universal reforms (applied equally across the schooling system) or SES-targeted reforms are more appropriate, depending on the strength of the family background –achievement relationship. By comparing the Gulf countries to other non-Gulf Arab countries, a picture of the regional educational inequalities emerges, allowing policymakers to cooperatively address common problems.