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Why do East Asian children perform so well in PISA? An investigation of Western-born children of East Asian descent

Jerrim, J; (2015) Why do East Asian children perform so well in PISA? An investigation of Western-born children of East Asian descent. Oxford Review of Education , 41 (3) pp. 310-333. 10.1080/03054985.2015.1028525. Green open access

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Abstract

A small group of high-performing East Asian economies dominate the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. This has caught the attention of Western policymakers, who want to know why East Asian children obtain such high PISA scores, and what can be done to replicate their success. In this paper I investigate whether children of East Asian descent, who were born and raised in a Western country (Australia), also score highly on the PISA test. I then explore whether their superior performance (relative to children of Australian heritage) can be explained by reasons often given for East Asian students’ extraordinary educational achievements. My results suggest that second-generation East Asian immigrants outperform their native Australian peers by approximately 100 test points. Moreover, the magnitude of this achievement gap has increased substantially over the last ten years. Yet there is no ‘silver bullet’ that can explain why East Asian children obtain such high levels of academic achievement. Rather a combination of factors, each making their own independent contribution, seem to be at play. Consequently, I warn Western policymakers that it may only be possible to catch the leading East Asian economies in the PISA rankings with widespread cultural change.

Type: Article
Title: Why do East Asian children perform so well in PISA? An investigation of Western-born children of East Asian descent
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2015.1028525
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2015.1028525
Language: English
Additional information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Oxford Review of Education on 04/11/15, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/03054985.2015.1028525.
Keywords: PISA, East Asia, second generation immigrants
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1472907
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