Migrant children and academic achievement in Shanghai : a PISA study of influential student and school characteristics
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] By 2014, migrant children -- who moved from rural to urban areas -- accounted for approximately a quarter of the compulsory-education students (grades 1 to 9) in contemporary China. In an effort to provide an equal schooling opportunity for migrant students, Shanghai in 2008 opened up local public schools to migrant students. However, few studies to date have investigated how different layers of environments surrounding migrant children are related with their academic achievement at the end of compulsory education. This dissertation utilizes two-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) to examine the urban-migrant achievement differences in mathematics, reading, and science, and the extent to which such achievement gaps can be attributed to student demographic and school contextual characteristics. By making use of the Shanghai dataset of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012, which contained 5177 15-year-old students from 155 schools, the analysis examined student-level and school-level characteristics, which are Gender, Socioeconomic Status, Language Spoken at Home, Migrant Status, Socioeconomic Status Squared, School Socioeconomic Status, School Size, School Location, School Percentage of Migrant Students, and their relationships with the outcomes of interest. Findings showed that migrant students underperformed urban students in mathematics, reading, and science, and schools varied from each other substantially in the relationship between migrant status and academic achievement. Gender, Language Spoken at Home, Student Socioeconomic Status and School Mean Socioeconomic Status were significantly related with academic achievement. In particular, Student Socioeconomic Status explained away the achievement gaps in three subjects, suggesting that the achievement gaps are inherently derived from students' own socioeconomic background. School Mean Socioeconomic Status significantly accounted for the between-school variation for achievement gaps, which suggests that this predictor bears additional significance for migrant students' achievement in terms of bridging the achievement gaps. School Percentage of Migrant Students, however, was only significantly associated with mathematics achievement, but not with reading and science. Policy implications included integrating migrant students with socioeconomically advanced urban students; implementing benefits programs to poor migrant households and schools; and enhancing financial and material resources for schools where migrant students are attending through governmental subsidies as well as external funding.
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