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Can Reading Programs Improve Reading Skills and Academic Performance in Rural China?
Journal Article

Published By

China Economic Review

July 2018

In this paper, we attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of reading programs at improving the reading skills and academic achievement of primary school students in rural China. Using survey data on 4108 students, we find that students exhibited low levels of reading achievement, independent reading quantity, and reading confidence in the absence of any treatment. However, our results also suggest that properly designed treatments may improve the reading and academic outcomes of students. Specifically, we found that increased access to independent reading materials coupled with effective teacher training led to significant improvements in student reading skills, math test scores, and Chinese test scores. We believe that these improvements are due to changes in reading instruction and the attitudes of teachers toward reading. These findings indicate that encouraging higher reading quantity and providing high-quality reading instruction are important components for programs that seek to improve student outcomes in developing country settings.

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