The Effects of School-to-School Collaboration on Student Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Propensity Score Analysis

Abstract

School-to-school collaboration has been widely applied in many countries to improve schools’ academic outcomes. This study contributes to the understanding of the cognitive benefits of school-to-school collaboration. This study analyses the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS, 2013–2014) data by using propensity score matching to reveal the causal relations. The CEPS is a national survey that seeks feedback on the educational experience of students in grade 7 and grade 9 (age 13 and 15), their teachers and parents by using a stratified, multistage, sampling technique. The findings suggest that school-to-school collaboration can significantly promote students’ cognitive skills, given a series of covariates. Moreover, the heterogeneous treatment effect across family-related and individual-related covariates has been estimated. Students with higher social-economic status and better family support benefit less from the cognitive returns of school-to-school collaboration than those who have lower social-economic status and limited family support. The findings of this study suggest that the cognitive benefits of school-to-school collaboration have no difference in relation to students’ health conditions, learning time, or their experiences in school. Finally, the study’s limitations and future research directions are discussed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. Ainscow, M., Muijs, D., & West, M. (2006). Collaboration as a strategy for improving schools in challenging circumstances. Improving Schools, 9(3), 192–202. https://doi.org/10.1177/1365480206069014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Armstrong, P., & Ainscow, M. (2018). School-to-school support within a competitive education system: Views from the inside. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 29(4), 614–633. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2018.1499534.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Atkinson, M., Springate, I., Johnson, F., & Halsey, K. (2007). Inter-school collaboration: A literature review. Retrieved from http://www.schoolsworkingtogether.org/documents/nfer-report.pdf.

  4. Azorin, C., & Muijs, D. (2017). Networks and collaboration in Spanish education policy. Educational Research, 59(3), 273–296. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131881.2017.1341817.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Billett, S., Clemans, A., & Seddon, T. (2005). Forming, developing and maintaining social partnerships. Paper presented at the Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference, Adelaide. http://www.avetra.org.au/publications/archives.shtml.

  6. Caliendo, M., & Kopeining, S. (2008). Some practical guidance for the implementation of propensity score matching. Journal of Economic Surveys, 22(1), 31–72. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6419.2007.00527.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Chapman, C. (2008). Towards a framework for school-to-school networking in challenging circumstances. Educational Research, 50(4), 403–420. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131880802499894.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Chapman, C. (2013). Academy federations, chains, and teaching schools in England: Reflections on leadership, policy, and practice. Journal of School Choice, 7(3), 334–352. https://doi.org/10.1080/15582159.2013.808936.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Chapman, C., & Allen, T. (2006). Collaborative reform for schools in difficulty. Improving Schools, 9(3), 291–301. https://doi.org/10.1177/1365480206072269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Chapman, C., & Muijs, D. (2013). Collaborative school turnaround: A study of the impact of school federations on student outcomes. Leadership and Policy in Schools, 12(3), 200–226. https://doi.org/10.1080/15700763.2013.831456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Chapman, C., & Muijs, D. (2014). Does school-to-school collaboration promote school improvement? A study of the impact of school federations on student outcomes. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(3), 351–393. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243453.2013.840319.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chapman, C., Muijs, D., & MacAllister, J. (2011). A study of the impact of school federation on student outcomes. Retrieved from https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/12140/1/download%3Fid=155373&filename=the-impact-of-school-federation-on-student-outcomes.pdf.

  13. Chapman, C., Muijs, D., Sammons, P., Armstrong, P., & Collins, A. (2009). Impact of federations on student outcomes: A report prepared for the National College of Leadership for Schools and Children's Services. Retrieved from https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/12140/1/download%3Fid%3D155373%26filename%3Dthe-impact-of-school-federation-on-student-outcomes.pdf.

  14. Connolly, M., & James, C. (2006). Collaboration for school improvement: A resource dependency and institutional framework. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 34(1), 69–87. https://doi.org/10.1177/1741143206059540.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Croft, J. (2015). Collaborative overreach: Why collaboration probably isn't key to the next phase of school reform. Retrieved from https://cfee.org.uk/sites/default/files/Collaborative%20overreach.pdf.

  16. Ding, Y. D. (2019). Can school-to-school collaboration improves students’ academic outcomes? An empirical study based on CEPS data. Shanghai Educational Research, 37(6), 39–44.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Donnelly, C., & Gallagher, T. (2008). School collaboration in Northern Ireland: Opportunities for reconciliation. Retrieved from http://www.schoolsworkingtogether.com/documents/School-Collaboration-in-NI.pdf.

  18. Duffy, G., & Gallagher, T. (2014). Sustaining school partnerships: The context of cross-sectoral collaboration between schools in a separate education system in Northern Ireland. Review of Education, 2(2), 189–210. https://doi.org/10.1002/rev3.3034.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Duffy, G., & Gallagher, T. (2017). Shared education in contested spaces: How collaborative networks improve communities and schools. Journal of Educational Change, 18(1), 107–134. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-016-9279-3.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Fang, G., & Hou, Y. (2019). How family social economic status impacts the development of secondary students’ cognitive competence. Global Education, 48(9), 68–76.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Gallagher, T. (2016). Shared education in Northern Ireland: School collaboration in divided societies. Oxford Review of Education, 42(3), 362–375. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2016.1184868.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Gu, Q., Rea, S., Smethem, L., Dunford, J., Varley, M., Sammons, P., … Powell, L. (2016). Teaching schools evaluation Research brief. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/503332/Research_Brief_FINAL_FOR_PUB.pdf.

  23. Hadfield, M., & Ainscow, M. (2018). Inside a self-improving school system: Collaboration, competition and transition. Journal of Educational Change, 19(4), 441–462. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10833-018-9330-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hao, L., & Yu, X. (2017). Sources of unequal cognitive development of middle-school students in China’s rural-urban migration era. Chinese Journal of Sociology, 3(1), 32–55. https://doi.org/10.1177/2057150x16684115.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Jopling, M., & Hadfield, M. (2015). From fragmentation to multiplexity: Decentralisation, localism and support for school collaboration in England and Wales. Journal of Educational Research Online, 7(1), 49–67.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Leithwood, K. (2019). Characteristics of effective leadership networks: A replication and extension. School Leadership & Management, 39(2), 175–197. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2018.1470503.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Liu, J. (2013). The development of inequality in public school admission: Public discourses on Ze Xiao and practices in urban China. (Ph.D.), Nagoya University, Nagoya.

  28. Liu, J. (2018). Constructing resource sharing collaboration for quality public education in urban China: Case study of school alliance in Beijing. International Journal of Educational Development, 59, 9–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2017.09.004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Meng, F., Zhang, L., & She, Y. (2016). Three modes of running schools by group in elementary education in China. Educational Research, 37(10), 40–45.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Muijs, D., Ainscow, M., Chapman, C., & West, M. (2011). Collaboration and networking in education. New York, NY: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Muijs, D., West, M., & Ainscow, M. (2010). Why network? Theoretical perspectives on networking. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 21(1), 5–26. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243450903569692.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Nooteboom, B. (2004). Inter-firm collaboration, networks and strategy: A integrated approach (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Piaget, J. (1977). The development of thought: Equilibration of cognitive structures. New York: Viking.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Pino-Yancovic, M., & Ahumada, L. (2020). Collaborative inquiry networks: The challenge to promote network leadership capacities in Chile. School Leadership & Management. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2020.1716325.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Powell, M., Hull, D., & Beaujean, A. (2019). Propensity score matching for education data: Worked examples. The Journal of Experimental Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220973.2018.1541850.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Psaltis, C., & Duveen, G. (2006). Social relations and cognitive development: The influence of conversation type and representations of gender. European Journal of Social Psychology, 36, 407–430. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Rincon-Gallardo, S. (2019). Leading school networks to liberate learning: Three leadership roles. School Leadership & Management. https://doi.org/10.1080/13632434.2019.1702015.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Rincon-Gallardo, S., & Fullan, M. (2016). Essential features of effective networks in education. Journal of Professional Capital and Community, 1(1), 5–22. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPCC-09-2015-0007.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Rosenbaum, P., & Rubin, D. (1983). The central role of the propensity score in observational studies for causal effects. Biometrika, 70(1), 41–55. https://doi.org/10.1093/biomet/70.1.41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Shen, J. (2018). The exploration of school-to-school collaboration in Hangzhou. Shanghai Educational Research, 36(2), 30–32.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Sills, J., Rose, G., & Emerson, L. M. (2016). The role of collaboration in the cognitive development of young children: A systematic review. Child: Care, Health and Development, 42, 313–324. https://doi.org/10.1111/cch.12330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Stoll, L. (2015). Three greats for a self-improving school system: Pedagogy, professional development and leadership: executive summary. Retrieved from London: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/406279/Three_greats_for_a_self_improving_system_pedagogy_professional_development_and_leadership_executive_summary.pdf.

  43. Swenson, L., & Strough, J. (2008). Adolescents’ collaboration in the classroom: Do peer relationships or gender matter? Psychology in the Schools, 45(8), 715–728. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20337.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Tenenbaum, H. R., Winstone, N. E., Leman, P. J., & Avery, R. E. (2019). How effective is peer interaction in facilitating learning? A meta-analysis. Journal of Educational Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/edu0000436.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Topping, K. J. (2005). Trends in peer learning. Educational Psychology, 25, 631–645. https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410500345172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Turner, J. (2004). Building bridges: A study of independent-state school partnerships. Retrieved from https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5306/1/media-7b0-b4-building-bridges.pdf.

  47. VanLehn, K. (1996). Cognitive skill acquisition. Annal Review of Psychology, 47(1), 513–539.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher mental processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Wang, Y. (2019). The impact of Student mutual relationships on their academic outcomes in the context of school-to-school collaboration: The mediation effect of school belongings and cross-school interactions. Shanghai Educational Research, 37(4), 10–14.

    Google Scholar 

  50. West, M. (2010). School-to-school cooperation as a strategy for improving student outcomes in challenging contexts. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 21(1), 93–112. https://doi.org/10.1080/09243450903569767.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Xue, H., & Meng, F. (2011). A study on the fellowship pattern of inter-school collaboration. Educational Research, 33(6), 36–41.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Yang, X. W. (2014). Exploring the new mechanisms of balanced high quality development of regional compulsory education: An example of collective school running. Educational Development Research, 24(4), 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Yu, X., & Ruan, Q. (2017). New elite school-to-school partnership: “Hangzhou strategy” in educational supply reform within a city. People’s Education, 67(11), 21–25.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Zapiti, A., & Psaltis, C. (2012). Asymmetries in peer interaction: The effect of social representations of gender and knowledge asymmetry on children’s cognitive development. European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 578–588. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejsp.1885.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Zhang, S. (2017). Research on models for grouped school-running in elementary education. Educational Research, 38(6), 87–94.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Zhou, X., & Xie, Y. (2019). Heterogeneous treatment effects in the presence of self-selection: A propensity score perspective. Sociological Methodology. https://doi.org/10.1177/0081175019862593.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgement

Many thanks to the Chinese Survey Center, Chinese Renmin University, for their permission to use the China Education Panel Survey data.

Funding

This study is supported by Guangdong Educational Science Planning Project, ID: 2020WQYB072.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Guangbao Fang.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fang, G., Chan, P.W.K. & Kalogeropoulos, P. The Effects of School-to-School Collaboration on Student Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Propensity Score Analysis. Asia-Pacific Edu Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40299-020-00549-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • School-to-school collaboration
  • Cognitive skills
  • Propensity score matching
  • Heterogeneous treatment effect