2016/4/1 ～ 2017/3/31
Briefly: The aim of this project is to do a pilot study concerning an educational policy experiment in Taiwan. The results of the pilot study will feed into an application for kakenhi.
Motivation: Taiwan often ranks among the top in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), but its educational system is also dangerously unequal. In the 2012 wave of PISA, 15-year-old students in Taiwan ranked 4th in Mathematics, but the standard deviation in scores was the highest among participating countries. One potential mechanism behind the gap in learning is the inequality in both the quality and quantity of teachers available in elementary schools. Taiwan’s Elementary schools vary vastly in their sizes; with 6 grades in elementary schools, 38% of all public schools average less than 20 students in each grade, while the mean for all public schools is 78 students in each grade. Although schools typically aim to retain multi-grade teaching, the smaller ones have limited number of openings for “formal” teachers and often recruit “substitutes” on annually renewed contract bases. As substitute positions provide little pay and less job security, the smaller schools struggle to recruit enough teachers for every subject in each grade. Teaching positions are often filled by people with no training in teaching or plans for careers in education. Small schools are mostly located in poor areas with little school-age population. Although these schools have enough resources to support acquisition of teaching materials and technologies on a par with larger schools, the shortage of teachers poses a serious problem for providing equitable education.
Current Intervention: Teach For Taiwan (TFT): Modelled after “Teach for All” initiatives in the USA, the non-profit organization, TFT, works by recruiting, training, and matching people who want to teach in rural Taiwan. Applicants are screened by review committees. Meanwhile, schools suitable for TFT then make requests for either home room teachers or subject teachers, and TFT matches applicants to schools based on preferences from both sides and its staff’s judgment. The teachers then stay at the matched school for 2 years. TFT’s first cohort of teachers began teaching in September 2014, and will finish this coming summer. TFT is currently recruiting its third cohort of teachers and visiting new schools to include into its project.
Our Goal: An evaluation of TFT is likely the first on elementary schools in a high-achieving education system. Since the current TFT setting is not randomized, it is difficult to identify the causal impact of TFT on students or schools. In this project, we propose to match schools with TFT teachers by randomization. We aim to evaluate the program impact by field experiment, in addition to panel data methods.