Following rapid social and economic development in the Asia-Pacific region in the past decades, there is a growing interest in the cultural differences in schooling between East and West. This interest extends to the cultural forces shaping the features of school processes and dominating the effectiveness of education in terms of students’ academic achievements. Unfortunately, many recent studies and debates about culture suffer from a number of major methodological and conceptual drawbacks, including confusion in conceptions, arbitrary use of cultural terms, over-attribution to cultural effects, and ignorance of levels of analysis. Few studies seem capable of deepening our understanding of cultural or cross-cultural factors in educational effectiveness. Copyright © 2000 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.