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Authors: Abbey, Cody
Advisors: Flaherty, Martin
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2014
Abstract: In an increasingly competitive global economy, industrial nations and developing nations alike have embarked on a quest to cultivate the innovation and creativity of their citizens through education reform. With these ambitions in mind, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has recently announced an initiative to launch its own reform through the diversification of university admissions criteria beyond the National College Entrance Exam (gaokao) as well as alterations to the examination itself. Such reforms, however, may threaten the access of rural students to higher education due to a severe urban-rural divide in educational resources and opportunities. To assess the potential challenges posed by these reforms, this thesis analyzes the perspectives of secondary school practitioners and students towards specific policies proposed by the Chinese government. Through an urban-rural comparative empirical study, this thesis shows that while the urban and rural school communities share similar views regarding how the examination-system reforms will affect their respective schools, each community holds quite different views regarding how enrollment-system reforms will affect their respective schools. Contrary to this paper’s initial hypothesis, urban and rural acceptability of the reforms do not significantly differ across the board. This was at least partially due to the unexpected altruistic tendency of urban students, who generally viewed policies that disadvantaged their rural counterparts as unacceptable. Overall, the stakeholders’ attitudes depended on whether the policy in question reformed the gaokao itself (“examination-system reforms”) or diversified admissions criteria beyond the gaokao (“enrollment-system reforms”). In terms of “examination-system reforms,” the urban school community and rural school community showed general acceptance, with common concerns over a potentially heavier burden caused by increasing the number of times the exam is offered each year. The urban and rural schools also generally viewed the combination of humanities and science tracks of study as conditionally plausible, as long as this does not result in an increase in the required subjects on the gaokao. In terms of “enrollment-system reforms,” heavy opposition existed on both sides. The urban school saw these reforms as unfairly benefiting itself, while the rural school saw success in these new alternate admission channels as far-fetched for its own students and therefore viewed these new channels as being distractions. This thesis suggests that the Chinese Ministry of Education should place priority on implementing and refining those reforms that currently have a higher degree of acceptance from the public and a low possibility for exacerbating the urban-rural divide – examinationsystem reforms. For enrollment-system reforms, this thesis makes several suggestions as to how to increase the feasibility of implementing such policies on a long-term basis.
Extent: 119 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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