• Heidi KnipprathEmail author


Researchers, policy officials, and the wider public in Japan and abroad often hold different views about the quality of Japanese education. Whereas Western researchers are attracted by the academic performance of Japanese students in international assessment studies, Japanese university professors launched a public debate in 1999 about declining achievement. Both advocates and detractors, however, assume that students perform equally well or bad, teachers do not differ in their methods, and students are treated similarly across schools. This study explored the validity of the mutually opposing views about the quality of Japanese education and addressed the issue of unequal educational opportunities, which has not been investigated based on representative, large-scale datasets. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies, Japanese students performed well but a decline is visible between 2003 and 2006 for mathematics. The PISA studies also indicate that an achievement gap exists in Japan and that tracking leads to differential school experiences.


educational effectiveness educational quality inequality of educational opportunities Japan mathematics education PISA science education tracking 


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Copyright information

© National Science Council, Taiwan 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department for Educational Sciences, Centre for Educational Effectiveness and EvaluationKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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