The Effect of Parental Involvement in Different Educational Systems: A Natural Experiment in Taiwan

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Yi-Lin CHIANG, University of Pennsylvania, USA
What is the fairest way to select students? Scholars show that, regardless of the selection method, students from wealthier family backgrounds consistently have advantaged educational outcomes across societies (Shavit and Blossfeld 1993). One mechanism that explains children’s (dis)advantages across educational systems is parent’ class-based involvement patterns (Hung 2005; Muller 1995; Lareau 2011; Park et al. 2011). However, educational systems have differential rewards to parents’ class-based practices (Park 2008). This suggests that, while student selection may be inevitably associated with family background, certain educational systems can be relatively free from family influences than others systems.

This paper compares the effect of family background and parental involvement on children’s high school attainment in two different educational selection systems in Taiwan. I choose to examine Taiwan because the country is a natural experiment: Taiwanese government changed high school entrance policies from exam-based selection to taking into account multiple dimensions of student performance. Data for this paper comes from the Taiwan Youth Project, a longitudinal study of two cohorts of middle school students and parents in northern Taiwan. I find that, compared to students in the exam-based system, high socioeconomic family backgrounds and parental involvement are more important for students in the new system than the exam system. The results suggest that educational equality, measured by limited parental influences, is perhaps greater in exam-based systems than in systems that account for multiple types of student characteristics.

Most countries seek to minimum privileges from family background when selecting students. While this study uses the example of Taiwanese students, findings from a natural experiment carry implications for other societies. By examining high school admission and the influence of family background in different educational systems in Taiwan, this paper joins the debate over fairness in student selection and contributes to the sociological understandings of educational inequality.