Theses Doctoral

Education policy issues in Turkey

Dincer, Mehmet Alper

Since the mid-1990s, public education provision in Turkey has been in constant transformation, a result of modernization efforts connected to the political determination of governments to complete Turkey's accession to the European Union. During this period two nation-wide reforms stand out due to their dramatic impact on children, students, teachers and the education system as a whole. First, the Compulsory Education Law enacted in 1997 required that all the children enrolled in grade 4 or lower must stay in school until the completion of the eighth grade. Second, in 2002, the Ministry of National Education (MONE) abandoned recruiting teachers based on lottery and started to use teachers' test scores instead. Following new legislation, the Center of Measurement, Selection and Placement (ÖSYM) launched a central examination process which is known as the Public Servant Selection Examination (KPSS). This dissertation provides an econometric evaluation of the impact of these interventions on education outcomes in Turkey. The dissertation seeks to establish a causal link between the enactment of KPSS and student achievement. It presents evidence indicating that teacher recruitment via a meritocratic, test-based assessment instead of a lottery may have a positive impact on student achievement. The research also shows that the increase in the average student achievement displayed by Turkey in international assessments such as PISA (Programme of International Student Assessment) and TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) may be partially explained by the inception of KPSS. The identification strategy for this assessment is based on the fact that the TIMMS data includes information on teachers and test scores for each student sampled in Turkey in both1999 and 2007, that is, before and after KPSS was enacted in 2002. This allows the estimation of a difference-in-differences model with student fixed effects. The findings highlight that students whose teachers were recruited after the enactment of KPSS perform 0.2 standard deviations higher than their counterparts whose teachers were recruited before the enactment of KPSS. This finding remains stable in several sensitivity and robustness checks.The dissertation then turns to analyzing an earlier intervention, the Compulsory Education Law of 1997. The research estimates the impact of the Compulsory Education Law on the years of schooling of women aged between 18 and 29. For this purpose, the dissertation uses the Turkey Demographic Health Survey 2003 and 2008. The identification strategy is based on the fact that, first, cohorts born after 1986 (children enrolled in grade 4 in the1996-1997 school year and later) were subject to the Compulsory Education Law and earlier cohorts were not, and, second, the intensity of the intervention varied between regions. Hence the investigation exploited the between-cohort and between-region variation in intensity of the intervention to estimate the causal impact of the Compulsory Education Law on years of schooling. The findings suggest that the Compulsory Education Law led to a 34 percentage point increase in the probability of completing eight years of schooling and an additional 1.5 years of schooling. Also, the econometric results indicate that the Compulsory Education Law affected high school completion rates, i.e. eleven years of schooling. The analysis of the impact of the Compulsory Education Law is extended to a two-stage least-squares (TSLS) estimation of the impact of completing eight years of schooling/additional years of schooling on teenage marriage and fertility. The between-cohort and between-region variation in intensity of the intervention are used to instrument completing eight years of schooling and additional years of schooling. However, in contrast with the existing research on this issue in Turkey, these TSLS estimations did not supply any evidence in favor of the presence of a causal link between completing eight years of schooling/additional years of schooling and teenage marriage and fertility.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Economics and Education
Thesis Advisors
Rivera-Batiz, Francisco
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 23, 2013