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School Socioeconomic Segregation and Educational Expectations of Students in China’s Junior High Schools

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 38, No. 3, 2017

 

School Socioeconomic Segregation and Educational Expectations of Students in China’s Junior High Schools

(Abstract)

 

Wu Yuxiao and Huang Chao

 

China’s educational enterprise has achieved great successes since reform and opening up in 1978, but the constraints imposed by a number of factors mean that the problem of unequal distribution of high quality educational resources among groups from different strata is becoming increasingly noticeable at the basic education stage, leading to socioeconomic segregation in schools. We utilize baseline data from the China Education Panel Survey for 2013-2014 to investigate this phenomenon in junior high schools and its influence upon students’ educational expectations. Our findings show that marked segregation currently exists at the junior high school level. The extent of the segregation varies from region to region and place to place (urban or rural), and school socioeconomic composition (SEC) exerts a significant influence upon students’ educational expectations. The higher the school’s average SEC or the greater its heterogeneity, the higher the educational expectations of its students. The effect of school SEC upon the educational expectations of students varies depending on the characteristics of different student groups; students who have lower cognitive abilities and fall behind at school are more likely to benefit from an increase in school socioeconomic status (SES) and heterogeneity. Because educational expectations are a decisive factor in academic achievement and educational attainment, the influence of school socioeconomic segregation upon educational equity should not be overlooked. Lessening the degree of school socioeconomic segregation and encouraging integrated schools would be an effective measure for ensuring educational equity in China.

 

Keywords: school socioeconomic segregation, socioeconomic status (SES), educational expectations, educational equity