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Cross National Studies of Educational Opportunity . Fernando Reimers September 2010. Last Week History of Comparative Education Dissemination of ideas about education—influences in practice Kandel—Education of Teachers Classification of the field today This week

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Last Week

History of Comparative Education

Dissemination of ideas about education—influences in practice

Kandel—Education of Teachers

Classification of the field today

This week

Comparing Civic Education

Purposes of comparison

Concept of ‘Educational Transfer’

A framework to compare

What institutions are involved

A framework to think about educational opportunity

A discussion of the equity and the relevance gaps (civic education, science and engineering education, global education)

Using gradients to examine inequality


Comparative education

Comparative studies

Education Abroad





Comparative Pedagogy


And intra-cultural




Study of work of

International organizations

Halls typology of comparative education

what is the purpose of the iea third civic education study

What is the purpose of the IEA Third Civic Education Study?

The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) studied the ways in which countries prepare their young people to undertake their roles as citizens. It investigated student knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship as well as student attitudes, perceptions,

and activities related to civics and citizenship. It also examined differences among countries in relation to these outcomes of civic and citizenship education, and it explored how differences among countries relate to student characteristics, school and community contexts, and national


purposes of the study
Purposes of the study

Describes how civic education is done in different countries

Analyze the consequences of particular pedagogical approaches for student knowledge and skills in civics

Contribute to the development of education theory on political socialization

Supports curriculum planning and teacher education

Helps to cooperation, mutual understanding and exchange among nations

a model of opportunity
A model of opportunity


Teacher Education Student Learning

Teacher Education


Commitment to educate all at high levels

  • Schools that are themselves democratic communities
  • Relationships between schools and communities
  • Teachers prepared to value diversity, tolerant and who can model democratic practices
  • Curriculum for democratic citizenship
  • Frequent daily opportunities to learn at high levels, to think, choose and be tolerant








Who should be educated?

For what purposes?

Teacher selection

Initial Training

In-service Training

School Organization

System Administration

School Management



Instructional resources



RQ 1 What variations exist among countries and within countries in student civic and citizenship

  • knowledge?
  • RQ 2 What changes in civic knowledge have occurred since the last international assessment in 1999?
  • RQ 3 What is the extent of interest and disposition to engage in public and political life among adolescents,
  • and which factors within or across countries are related to this engagement?
  • RQ 4 What are adolescents’ perceptions of the impact of threats to civil society and of responses to these threats on the future development of that society?

RQ 5 What aspects of schools and education systems are related to knowledge about, and attitudes to, civics

  • and citizenship , including the following:
    • a. general approaches to civic and citizenship education, curriculum, and/or program content
    • structure and delivery;
    • b. teaching practices, such as those that encourage higher order thinking and analysis in relation to
    • civics and citizenship; and
    • c. aspects of school organization, including opportunities to contribute to conflict resolution,
    • participate in governance processes, and be involved in decision-making?
  • RQ 6 What aspects of student personal and social background, such as gender, socioeconomic background, and language background, are related to student knowledge about, and attitudes toward, civic and citizenship education?

overall, although countries give greatest emphasis to developing knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship, they still give credence to other processes that occur alongside. These other processes vary from country to country, but in general they focus on “learning by doing” and on providing opportunities for student participation.

All 38 participating countries place some or a major emphasis on the processes underpinning knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship. Most also pay heed to the process of developing positive attitudes among students via the following means:

  • Participation and engagement in civic and civil society (37 countries);
  • Communicating through discussion and debate (37 countries);
  • Developing a sense of national identity and allegiance (35 countries);
  • Projects and written work (33 countries).
fewer countries emphasize these means
Fewer countries emphasize these means:
  • Creating opportunities for student involvement in decision-making in school (31 countries);
  • Creating opportunities for student involvement in decision-making through community based activities (30 countries);
  • Analyzing and observing change processes in the community (29 countries);
  • Reflecting on and analyzing participation and engagement opportunities (28 countries);
  • Analyzing and observing change processes in the school (22 countries).
  • These findings suggest that although there is a move in most countries toward learning by doing and toward facilitating student participation in civic and citizenship activities, this approach is not always matched by opportunities for students to analyze the learning they gain from such experiences.
what approach and which processes are most effective
What approach and which processes are most effective?
  • In small groups discuss these different approaches to civic education.
  • Discuss the various processes which are emphasized in civic education.
  • Discuss the variation in topics which is covered.
  • Which do you think is most effective?
  • How do you know?
  • If you were advising a national director of curriculum in a Ministry of Education, what implications would you draw from these descriptions?
measuring knowledge and attitudes
Measuring knowledge and attitudes
  • Take a minute to write:
  • One item that measures knowledge of democracy
  • One item that measures knowledge of the concept of discrimination
  • One item that measures trust in political institutions
  • One item that measures attitudes towards gender equity.
knowledge of democracy what is democracy for
Knowledge of democracyWhat is democracy for?
  • 1.  To elect rulers
  • 2.  To resolve the injustices in society
  • 3.  To hold the government accountable
  • 4. All
  • 9.I do not know.
knowledge of democracy in a democratic political system who should govern the country
Knowledge of democracyIn a democratic political system, Who should govern the country?
  • Moral or religious leaders.
  • 2. A small group of people with good education.
  • 3. Elected representatives.
  • 4.Experts in matters of politics and government.
  • 9.I do not know.

Understanding of discrimination A woman who has a young son, is interviewed for a job at a travel agency.Which of the following reasons for not giving employment, is an example of discrimination?

1. No previous experience.

2. Mother.

3.  Speaks only one language.

4. Calls for a high salary.

9. I do not know.

trust on a scale of 1 to 5 how much trust do you have in
Trust On a scale of 1 to 5 how much trust do you have in…
  • The federal government.
  • Your teachers
  • The municipal government.
  • The courts of justice.
  • Your parents
  • The police.
  • Your classmates
  • Political parties.
  • The Congress of the Union
  • Your friends
attitudes towards gender equity on a scale of 1 to 5 how much do you agree with these statements
Attitudes towards gender equityOn a scale of 1 to 5 how much do you agree with these statements
  • Household chores are women's things
  • Women should be members of Congress and participate in government as well as men.
  • Women should have all the same rights as men.
  • Women should stay out of politics.
  • Men and women performing the same work should receive the same pay.
  • Men are better qualified than women to be political leaders
the aims of comparative education
The aims of comparative education

Describes what might be the consequences of certain courses of action, by looking at experiences in various countries

Contributes to the development of education theory

Supports educational planning

Helps to cooperation and mutual understanding among nations

Shows what is possible by examining alternatives to provision at home

Offers yardsticks by which to judge the performance of education systems

Describes what might be the consequences of certain courses of action, by looking at experiences in various countries

Provides a body of descriptive and explanatory data which allows us to see various practices and procedures in a very wide context

Contributes to the development of an increasingly sophisticated theoretical framework in which to describe and analyze educational phenomena

Serves to provide authoritative objective data which can be used to put the less objective data of others who use comparisons for a variety of political and other reasons to the test

Has an important supportive and instructional role to play in the development of any plans for educational reform

Helps to foster cooperation and mutual understanding among nations by discussing cultural differences and similarities and offering explanations for them

Is of intrinsic intellectual interest as a scholarly activity as other comparative fields.


Entire Population

Religious Groups

Gender Groups

Ethnic Groups

Other Groups

Age Groups

Level 1: World regions/continents

Level 2: Countries

Other aspects

Level 3: States/Provinces

Labor Market

Political Change

Management Structures

Level 4: Districts

Educational Finance

Teaching Methods

Level 5: Schools

Level 6: Classrooms


Level 7: Individuals

Bray and Thomas

cross national studies of achievement
Cross-national studies of achievement
  • International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)
  • Work begins in 1958 at Unesco Institute of Education in Hamburg. IEA established in 1967.
  • The world as an education laboratory

"If custom and law define what is educationally allowable within a nation, the educational systems beyond one’s national boundaries suggest what is educationally possible."

Arthur W. Foshay in: Educational Achievement of Thirteen-year-Olds in Twelve Countries

iea studies
IEA Studies
  • The very first IEA study was intended to investigate the feasibility of undertaking more extensive investigations of educational achievement. This study, known as Pilot Twelve-Country Study, was conducted in 1959–62 with samples of 13-year-old students in 12 countries. Testing was carried out in five areas: mathematics, reading comprehension, geography, science, and non-verbal ability.

First International Mathematics Study (FIMS). They collected data in 1964 on two populations-13-year-olds and students at the pre-university year. The study identified several different factors influencing both the learning and teaching of mathematics. 'Opportunity to learn' (that is, the way a subject is actually taught in the classroom as against how its instruction is prescribed in the official curriculum syllabus) was found to be a remarkably good predictor of systematic differences in student performance. The study also showed that all school systems suffer to some extent from lack of equity between different groups of students.


The Six Subject Study, conducted in 1970-1971 examined six different curriculum subjects: reading comprehension, science, literature, French as a foreign language, English as a foreign language, and civic education. The researchers made two changes to the target population. First, they added a primary school target population — 10-year-olds. Second, they moved the middle school population from 13 to 14 years of age, because by that time nearly all participating countries were keeping children in full-time compulsory education up to the end of 14 years. The Six Subject Study helped to identify several new predictors of student achievement related to interests, motivation and attitudes, methods of teaching and school practices, and others.


1980–81 Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS), with 20 countries participating, it incorporated a small short-term longitudinal component.

  • 1983–84 Second International Science Study (SISS), a replication of FISS with 24 countries.
  • 1981-83 Classroom Environment Study adopted the idea of observing student progress over a longer period of time.
  • 1986-2003 Preprimary Education (PPP) longitudinal study.
  • 1985, Written Composition study to complement the data on reading comprehension and literature collected by the Six-Subject Study.
  • 1990–91 Reading Literacy Study. Thirty-one countries participated in this study, which tested two populations of students (9- and 14-year-olds).
  • 1989 and 1992 the two-phase Computers in Education Study (COMPED),
  • 1999 Second Information Technology in Education Study (SITES) in 1999.
  • 1996-1997 Second Civic Education Study (CIVED)
  • 1995 Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Forty-five countries participated in TIMSS, with more than half a million students encompassing five grades tested.
  • TIMSS contributed to stabilization of the IEA cycle of studies in mathematics, science and reading literacy. The subsequent data collection for TIMSS (at present known as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) took place in 1999 and 2003.
  • 2001 Progress in Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
  • PIRLS 2006 was initiated in 2003 and TIMSS 2007 was begun in 2005.
  • 2005 Third Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCES). The purpose of this study is to investigate the ways in which young people are prepared to undertake their roles as citizens in a range of countries.
  • The IEA cycle of studies attracts an increasing number of countries from all around the world. In TIMSS 2003 more than 50 educational systems participated. Twelve of them, from Arabic countries and Africa, participated for the first time in the assessment of this scale. In PIRLS 2001 there were 35 countries. More than 40 educational systems participate in PIRLS 2006 and more than 60 joined TIMSS 2007. Several of them are also ‘newcomers’ to the international assessment, many are representing low- and middle-income countries whose social, political and economic situation differs much from traditional IEA studies participants. This requires development of new ways of working to ensure that all systems can benefit. In response to this challenge IEA increases its training offered. This includes assistance on a various steps of study preparation and implementation, using the database and assisting researchers to address with the IEA data more fundamental questions, relevant to their educational systems.  
cross national studies examine
Cross-national studies examine
  • Achievement of students in standardized tests across countries
  • Instructional practices across countries
  • School organization across countries
  • The relationship of school resources to student achievement across countries
  • All of the above
  • None of the above
expansion of educational opportunity
Expansion of Educational Opportunity
  • Educational Opportunity as an Elevator
  • Educational Opportunity as Transitions
  • What skills?
    • Literacy
    • Numeracy
    • Science
    • Citizenship

1802, first public office to oversee education

1828 Ministry of public instruction


Comparative education

Comparative studies

Education Abroad





Comparative Pedagogy


And intra-cultural




Study of work of

International organizations

Halls typology of comparative education

Article 26.

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.

(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.


On December 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations meeting in Paris. At that time, Unesco’s Director-General, Jaime Torres Bodet, stressed the importance of this event in these words:

‘The declaration of 10 December 1948 is more than a historical summary, it is a programme. Every paragraph is a call to action, every line a condemnation of apathy, every sentence a repudiation of some moment of our individual or national history; every word forces us to scrutinize more closely the situation in the world today. The destiny of mankind is an indivisible responsibility which we all must share.’


During the summer of 1947 UNESCO organized its first Summer Seminar in Sèvres (France). This seminar focused attention on two main areas of interest:

Ways and means of improving the curriculum, within the educational systems of the Member States, as a means of developing world-mindedness;

The influence of differences in cultural environment on the growth and adjustment of adolescents of various countries

education for all
Education for All

The six goals are:

Goal 1: Expand early childhood care and education

Goal 2: Provide free and compulsory primary education for all

Goal 3: Promote learning and life skills for young people and adults

Goal 4: Increase adult literacy by 50 per cent

Goal 5: Achieve gender parity by 2005, gender equality by 2015

Goal 6: Improve the quality of education

transnational space and actors
Transnational Space and Actors

Multilateral (Intergovernmental) Organizations UUNN

Multilateral Development Institutions. World Bank. UNESCO. Regional Banks.

Bilateral Development Agencies (JICA, USAID, CIDA, GTZ)

International Non-Governmental Organizations (Faith based Organizations, Save the Children)

Consulting Firms, Think Tanks and Universities

Interest Groups