Transition from Primary to Secondary School and Ethnic Inequalities in Comparative Perspective

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 11:20
Oral Presentation
Aigul ALIEVA, Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research, Luxembourg
Vincent HILDEBRAND, York University, Canada
The phenomenon of educational tracking has been widely studied in sociological literature. While it served the needs of national economies in previous times, its relevance in modern education and economy is being more frequently contested. Most contributions conclude that it disproportionately punishes students from low socio-economic strata, provides them with narrow or basic skills, denies them the opportunity to pursue tertiary or other advanced studies, and in overall increases the social inequality in the society.

Tracking is widely present in many European schooling systems – Austria, Germany, Switzerland are the classical examples of dual system, but other countries like Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and even France and Italy practice programme placement to some extent.

This paper contributes to the literature on tracking in two ways:

  • While it is known that students of migratory background are more likely to be placed in vocational programmes, less is known about the systematic bias in such decisions. We impute prior achievement scores in reading or mathematics and use it as a main control in explaining potential bias.

  • We combine educational data for primary and secondary schools from various educational surveys and construct three synthetic birth cohorts of students, observed initially in primary (PIRLS or TIMSS survey) and later in secondary school (PISA survey).

Our sample includes 14 countries and 370 000 students, of whom around 40% are in vocational education. Our preliminary results suggest no bias towards immigrant students in countries with high share of immigrant students and longer immigration history. The contrary seem to be true for cases with relatively small immigrant population who became receiving countries in recent years.