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Exploring Differences in the Distribution of Teacher Qualifications across Mexico and South Korea: Evidence from the Teaching and Learning International Survey


by Thomas F. Luschei, Amita Chudgar & W. Joshua Rew — 2013

Background/Context: Although substantial evidence from the United States indicates that more qualified teachers are disproportionately concentrated among academically and economically advantaged children, little cross-national research has examined the distribution of teacher qualifications across schools and students. As a result, we know little about how different institutional contexts, policies, and priorities influence children’s access to qualified teachers.

Research Question: Our research questions are: (1) Are the qualifications of lower-secondary teachers within and across Mexico and South Korea distributed uniformly across schools? (2) If not, does the distribution of teacher qualifications in each country favor less or more advantaged children? (3) How can dissimilarities in teacher-related policies and educational priorities help to explain differences in the distribution of teacher qualifications across Mexico and South Korea?

Research Design: We employ secondary analysis of data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey, which was conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2007/2008. We use these data to describe the distribution of various teacher qualifications across communities of different sizes and across schools with varying levels of parental education. We also explore cross-national differences in institutional priorities and teacher-related policies. We compare Mexico and South Korea because while these two countries are similar in the level of teacher hiring and assignment, they are quite different in terms of their general commitment to educational equity.

Findings/Results: We find that the distribution of qualified teachers in South Korea is skewed toward disadvantaged children, while Mexican teachers tend to be distributed in a way that favors more advantaged students. Specifically, in South Korea students living in rural areas and those in schools with lower average parental education have greater access to better educated and more experienced teachers. The opposite occurs in Mexico.

Conclusions/Recommendations: We argue that these differences are due to both explicit policies and a greater commitment to educational equity in South Korea, relative to Mexico. Moreover, these differences are likely to be related to large cross-national differences in educational performance and equity.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 115 Number 5, 2013, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16964, Date Accessed: 7/31/2014 7:28:23 AM

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About the Author
  • Thomas Luschei
    Claremont Graduate University
    E-mail Author
    THOMAS F. LUSCHEI is an associate professor in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. His research uses an international and comparative perspective to study the impact and availability of educational resources—particularly high-quality teachers—among economically disadvantaged children. His recent publications include “In Search of Good Teachers: Patterns of Teacher Quality in Two Mexican states” in the Comparative Education Review (2012) and “Teachers, Student Achievement, and National Income: A Cross-national Examination of Relationships and Interactions” in Prospects (with Amita Chudgar, 2011).
  • Amita Chudgar
    MIchigan State University
    E-mail Author
    AMITA CHUDGAR is an assistant professor at the College of Education at Michigan State University. Her research is motivated by an interest in providing education efficiently and equitably in resource constrained environments. Her recent publications include “Relationship between Private Schooling and Achievement: Results from Rural and Urban India” in the Economics of Education Review (with Elizabeth Quin, forthcoming in 2012) and “Teachers, Student Achievement, and National Income: A Cross-national Examination of Relationships and Interactions” in Prospects (with Thomas Luschei, 2011).
  • W. Joshua Rew
    Florida State University
    E-mail Author
    W. JOSHUA REW is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University. His research focuses on school leadership, teacher quality, and their influence on student outcomes using large-scale national and international datasets.
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