Our first goal is to discuss new information for national policymaking which may arise from the analyses of international achievement study data. The second is to illustrate this potential by exploring determinants of students' career plans in a cross-national perspective. Using neo-institutionalism as our theoretical framework, we propose that the influence of a global educational ideology encourages high levels of occupational ambitions among students. This is particularly the case in countries where the transfer of this ideology is supported by the reception of aid for education, where economic prosperity is at modest levels but the service sector employment is expanding. To explore this proposition, we analyze students' occupational expectations using the 2006 PISA surveys from 49 countries. We account for a broad range of possible determinants by estimating three-level hierarchical models in which students are clustered in schools and schools within countries. We find that at individual and school levels, ambition is positively correlated with economic and noneconomic resources. In contrast, students in poorer countries, where secondary education is not yet universally accessible, tend to be more ambitious. The global educational ideology, indicated by the reception of education-related aid, is associated with student career optimism, while students in affluent nations with less economic inequality have modest occupational plans. In addition, the rate of service sector expansion is positively related to high levels of ambition. These patterns hold even after we control for cross-national variation in the extent to which PISA respondents represent populations of 15-year-olds in their countries.
Sikora, J. and Saha, L. (2010), "New directions in national education policymaking: student career plans in international achievement studies", Wiseman, A. (Ed.) The Impact of International Achievement Studies on National Education Policymaking (International Perspectives on Education and Society, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-117. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3679(2010)0000013007Download as .RIS
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