Render unto primary the things which are primary's: Inherited and fresh learning divides in Italian lower secondary education
We employ a pseudo-panel approach to link the achievements of the same cohort of Italian students over two waves of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. As we investigate the determinants of learning divides in math and science at the end of the lower secondary school (grade 8), we are able to tackle cumulative effects of education by controlling for the estimated prior score (grade 4). We find that the gender gap in math observed at grade 8 should actually be ascribed to primary education, while both school levels contribute to the emergence of the girls’ gap in science. In both subject, lower secondary schools are responsible for the largest part of the learning divide due to family background. On the other hand, foreign-origin students show a remarkable recovery at the lower secondary school, once their entry-level of competence is taken into account.
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