Self-selection in Japanese junior high schools: A longitudinal study of students' educational plans

Takehiko Kariya, James E. Rosenbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The U.S. educational system is viewed as a model of opportunity in many countries, but it may also have some undesirable consequences. Researchers find that youths' plans are often vague or inconsistent with their school performance and that these problems arise from confusion and cooling-out processes, which are treated as inevitable. Are they inevitable or are they a product of the U.S. educational system? This study examines how youths' plans are formed in the Japanese educational system, which is more conducive to the formation of clear and responsive plans. Using longitudinal data, we address four questions: (1) Are Japanese students' plans already stable by junior high? (2) Are their plans responsive to grade changes or are they constrained by confusion or cooling-out processes? (3) Does the rank of students' high schools affect their plans and mediate the effect of grades on their plans? (4) Do grades affect students' perceived vocational options? We examine whether junior high students are capable of forming clear and responsive plans in a system that conveys clear information, or whether confusion and cooling-out processes still obscure their plans. We also consider whether the Japanese selection system overdetermines youths' plans, including plans unrelated to academic achievement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-180
JournalSociology of Education
StatePublished - Jul 1987


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