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India shining and Bharat drowning: comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement

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  • Das, Jishnu
  • Zajonc, Tristan

Abstract

This paper uses student answers to publicly released questions from an international testing agency together with statistical methods from Item Response Theory to place secondary students from two Indian states -Orissa and Rajasthan -on a worldwide distribution of mathematics achievement. These two states fall below 43 of the 51 countries for which data exist. The bottom 5 percent of children rank higher than the bottom 5 percent in only three countries-South Africa, Ghana and Saudi Arabia. But not all students test poorly. Inequality in the test-score distribution for both states is next only to South Africa in the worldwide ranking exercise. Consequently, and to the extent that these two states can represent India, the two statements"for every ten top performers in the United States there are four in India"and"for every ten low performers in the United States there are two hundred in India"are both consistent with the data. The combination of India's size and large variance in achievement give both the perceptions that India is shining even as Bharat, the vernacular for India, is drowning. Comparable estimates of inequalities in learning are the building blocks for substantive research on the correlates of earnings inequality in India and other low-income countries; the methods proposed here allow for independent testing exercises to build up such data by linking scores to internationally comparable tests.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4644.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4644

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Keywords: Secondary Education; Educational Sciences; Teaching and Learning; Primary Education; Tertiary Education;

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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Geniuses and economic development
    by Ajay Shah in Ajay Shah's blog on 2010-09-11 21:54:00
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Cited by:
  1. Mohammad Niaz Asadullah, Nazmul Chaudhury, 2013. "Primary Schooling, Student Learning, and School Quality in Rural Bangladesh-Working Paper 349," Working Papers 349, Center for Global Development.
  2. Pritchett, Lant & Beatty, Amanda, 2012. "The Negative Consequences of Overambitious Curricula in Developing Countries," Working Paper Series rwp12-035, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Asadullah, Niaz, 2014. "The Effect of Islamic Secondary School Attendance on Academic Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 8233, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Das, Jishnu & Zajonc, Tristan, 2010. "India shining and Bharat drowning: Comparing two Indian states to the worldwide distribution in mathematics achievement," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 175-187, July.
  5. Emran, M. Shahe & Shilpi, Forhad, 2012. "Gender, geography and generations : intergenerational educational mobility in post-reform India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6055, The World Bank.

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