School Admission Reform, Academic Performance, and Equality in Educational Opportunity


Min-Hsiung Huang

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Abstract: Senior high school admissions in Taiwan have been reformed to avoid an excessive focus on academic competence and preparation for national high-stakes tests. In response, concerns have been raised over whether more holistic assessments of student performance for school admissions would dampen academic competence and erode equality in educational opportunities. In the present study, trend analysis and a longitudinal investigation revealed a significant decline in the proportion of high-achieving students in secondary school mathematics after 2014, when test performance ceased to be the sole criterion for high school admission, and when the high school admissions test changed from being norm referenced to criterion referenced. Although the policy reforms introduced in 2014 led to a decline in mathematics performance at first, a significant upturn followed soon thereafter. The effect of family socioeconomic status on student academic performance has not increased as school admission policies have changed over time.

Keywords: school admission reform; high-stakes testing; academic performance; equality in educational opportunity; Taiwan

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