Saturday, April 10, 2010

Reducing years of schooling

One of the papers I particularly liked from the conference that I attended last month at the ZEW in Mannheim last month considers an educational reform in one German state in which the number of years of schooling was reduced from 13 to 12 but with no reduction in the amount of material that was supposed to be covered.

The paper is by my friend Stefan Thomsen, who spent a few weeks here at Michigan in Fall 2009 and his Magdeburg colleague Bettina Buttner. Here is the abstract:
This paper analyzes the impact of shortening the duration of secondary schooling on the accumulation of human capital. In 2003, an educational policy reform was enacted in Saxony-Anhalt, a German state, providing a natural experimental setting. The thirteenth year of schooling was eliminated for those students currently attending the ninth grade. Tenth grade students were una ected. The academic curriculum remained almost unaltered. Using primary data from the double cohort of Abitur graduates in 2007, signi cant negative eff ects were discovered for both genders in mathematics and for females only in English. The effects on literature were not statistically signi cant.
This paper presents an interesting counterpoint to the two recent Canadian papers looking at the elimination of Grade 13 in Ontario, one by Harry Krashinsky at Toronto and the other (oddly not cited by Krashinsky) by Louis-Philippe Morin at Ottawa. The Ontario context differs from the German one in (at least) two ways. First, Grade 13 was a bit different to begin with as many students did not take a full load and/or retook courses from earlier years in order to get their averages up prior to applying to university. Moreover, when Grade 13 was eliminated some material was cut.

Oh, and if anyone knows how to get umlauts in blogger, I'd be glad to know it. Bettina is supposed to have one in her last name.

No comments: