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Assessing students'equality of opportunity in OECD countries : the role of national and school-level policies

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This paper analyses the relationship between equality of opportunities and characteristics of the educational systems, jointly considering country- and school-level features. Because the peer group composition represents a fundamental channel in shaping educational opportunities, we consider all policies, surveyed in the PISA 2006 dataset, that affect the sorting of students to schools. Our empirical analysis shows that the inclusion of sorting policies enhances the capacity of explaining the determinants of the socio-economic gradient with respect to previous studies including only countrylevel features. In particular, it casts doubts on the prominent role attributed to school tracking. However sorting policies do not fully account for the influence of school composition on the socioeconomic gradient; the direct inclusion of peer variables allows to highlight the equalizing impact of mixing students from different backgrounds. Among the other policies, also pre-school enrolment, public expenditure in education and ability tracking display a significant equalizing effect.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2011-17.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1117

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Keywords: School composition; equality of opportunity; sorting and tracking policies; family background;

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  1. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
  2. Dennis Epple & Elizabeth Newlon & Richard Romano, 2000. "Ability Tracking, School Competition, and the Distribution of Educational Benefits," NBER Working Papers 7854, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. de Bartolome, Charles A M, 1990. "Equilibrium and Inefficiency in a Community Model with Peer Group Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 110-33, February.
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