Searching for the golden model of education: cross-national analysis of math achievement

Katerina Bodovski, Soo Yong Byun, Volha Chykina, Hee Jin Chung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We utilised four waves of TIMSS data in addition to the information we have collected on countries’ educational systems to examine whether different degrees of standardisation, differentiation, proportion of students in private schools and governmental spending on education influence students’ math achievement, its variation and socioeconomic status (SES) gaps in math achievement. A higher level of standardisation of educational systems was associated with higher average math achievement. Greater expenditure on education (as a percentage of total government expenditure) was associated with a lower level of dispersion of math achievement and smaller SES gaps in math achievement. Wealthier countries exhibited higher average math achievement and a narrower variation. Higher income inequality (measured by the Gini index) was associated with a lower average math achievement and larger SES gaps. Further, we found that a higher level of standardisation alleviates the negative effects of differentiation in the systems with more rigid tracking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-741
Number of pages20
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Division of Social and Economic Sciences [grant number SES-1421590]. We acknowledge assistance provided by the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, which is supported by an infrastructure grant by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [grant number R24-HD041025]. We thank Hyunjoon Park and Theodore Gerber for their thoughtful feedback on the project and the Editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions. Previous versions of this article were presented at the International Sociological Association RC 28 summer conference at the University of Pennsylvania (2015) and in the Sociology of Education section at the annual meeting of American Sociological Association in Seattle (2016). The authors are grateful for the feedback of the participants and the discussants.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 British Association for International and Comparative Education.


  • differentiation
  • governmental spending on education
  • math achievement
  • socioeconomic gaps in achievement
  • Standardisation


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