Published Nov 23, 2020

Decheng Zhao  

Luhuan Wang


Improving the school governance structure and establishing a modern school system are the current research focuses in elementary and middle school management. Through a comparative analysis of the school governance structure of four provinces and cities in China (Beijing-Shanghai-Jiangsu-Guangdong, BSJG) and PISA2015 high-scored countries/economies, we found that the school autonomy in seven major aspects including “teacher selection, teacher dismissal, evaluation policy, enrollment policy, textbook selection, curriculum content, and curriculum design” in BSJG schools was significantly lower than that of high-scored countries/economies. The average decision-making of BSJG principals and teachers in various affairs was also substantially lower than the high-scored countries/economies. The multilevel analysis found that the impact of school governance structure on student performance presented different patterns between BSJG and high-scored countries/economies. Therefore, China needs to (i) expand the autonomy of school management further and establish a new government-school relationship; (ii) give priority to curriculum management and ensure its autonomy in schools; (iii) improve the principal accountability system, and strengthen the principal’s power and responsibility in school management; (iv) strengthen democratic management, thereby promoting teachers’ participation in the decision-making of school affairs.



PISA2015, School Governance Structure, School Autonomy, Principal Accountability System

Central Government of China, State Council. (2017). China Education Reform and Development Program [Z/EB/OL]. [Chinese] Available at: http://www.moe.edu.cn/jyb_sjzl/moe_177/tnull_2484.html

Central Government of China. (2017). The decision of the Central Government of China on the reform of the education system [Z/EB/OL]. [Chinese] Available at: http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_177/200407/2482.html

Chai, C.Q. (2009). The government should become the driving force behind the reform of the relationship between politics and schools. Primary and Secondary School Management, 2009(3):1. [Chinese]

Chen, D.C. (2002). School-based management in the United States and the principal responsibility system in China. Journal of the Chinese Society of Education, 2002(4):52-55. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3969/j.issn.1002-4808.2002.04.016

Chen, F. (2011). The degree of democratic management in primary and secondary schools: a survey and analysis based on teachers’ perspective. Primary and Secondary School Management, 2011(3):28-30. [Chinese]

Chu, J.T. (2009). Primary and secondary school teachers participate in school management research. Journal of the Chinese Society of Education, 2009(8):39-43. [Chinese]

Education Ministry of China. (2016). Several opinions of the Ministry of Education on further promoting the separation of education management, operation, and evaluation, and promoting the transformation of government functions [Z/EB/OL]. [Chinese] Available at: http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/s7049/201505/186927.html

Feng, D.M. (2005). Reconstruction and reconstruction of the principal responsibility system. Research in Educational Development, 2005(1):26-29. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3969/j.issn.1008-3855.2005.01.007

Li, X.Y., & Xia, L. (2014). Thoughts on expanding the autonomy of primary and secondary schools. Journal of the Chinese Society of Education, 2014(3):26-29. [Chinese]

Ma, Z.L. (1994). Modern enterprise system and scientific, corporate governance structure. Economic Review Journal, 1994(12):64-65. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.16528/j.cnki.22-1054/f.1994.12.020

Ministry of Education. (2015). Outline of the National Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development Plan (2010-2020) [Z/EB/OL]. [Chinese] Available at: http://www.moe.edu.cn/publicfiles/business/htmlfiles/moe/moe_838/201008/93704.html

OECD. (2016). PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools. Paris: OECD Publishing,107:71-73. https://ictlogy.net/bibliography/reports/projects.php?idp=3205

Wang, N.N. (2007). A review of the research on Chinese public primary and secondary schools’ internal governance structure: Based on the perspective of modern school system construction. Educational Science, 2007(4):18-23. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3969/j.issn.1002-8064.2007.04.005

Wu, J.L. (1996). Establish an effective corporate governance structure. Tianjin Social Sciences, 1996(1):16-18. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.16240/j.cnki.1002-3976.1996.01.008

Xiao, Z.L. (1985). Significant reforms of the school leadership system. Educational Research and Experiment, 1985(2):7-10. [Chinese]

Yang, Z.S. (2003). Curriculum management in primary and secondary schools in China: Significance, problems, and countermeasures. Curriculum,Teaching Material and Method, 2003(7):15-18. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.19877/j.cnki.kcjcjf.2003.07.007

Ye, Y.W. (2010). Problems and countermeasures in teaching Chinese elective courses in senior middle schools: Taking the teaching practice of Shenzhen Yucai Middle School as an example. Curriculum,Teaching Material and Method, 30(3):22-26. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.19877/j.cnki.kcjcjf.2010.03.005

Yuan, J.Y. (2000). The ideal, reality, and perfection of our country’s corporate legal person’s corporate governance structure. Journal of Hunan Institute of Political Science and Law, 2000(5):67-70. [Chinese]

Zhao, D.C, & Zhou, Y. (2017). How about the leadership performance of the principals of the four provinces (cities) in China? Based on the data analysis of the PISA2015 questionnaire for principals of four provinces (cities) in China. Primary and Secondary School Management, 2017(10):5-8. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.3969/j.issn.1002-2384.2017.10.003

Zhao, D.C. (2013). School development planning under the regional promotion. Educational Research, 34(3):54-58. [Chinese]

Zheng, H.L., & Wang, F.B. (2000). Research on the reform of Chinese corporate governance structure: A theoretical review. Management World, 2000(3):119-125. [Chinese] DOI: https://doi.org/10.19744/j.cnki.11-1235/f.2000.03.017
How to Cite
Zhao, D., & Wang, L. (2020). School Governance Structure and Its Impact on Student Performance: A Comparative Study between Four Provinces of China and the PISA2015 High-Scored Countries/Economies. Best Evidence in Chinese Education, 6(2), 825–843. https://doi.org/10.15354/bece.20.ar072