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The Economics of Tracking and Non-Tracking

  • Volker Meier


  • Gabriela Schütz

There exists substantial variation across countries as to whether and how students are grouped in classes according to ability. Economic analyses stress that there is joint production of human capital in schools, where output increases with mean ability in the class. Ability tracking may therefore be particularly helpful for talented students. At the same time, weak students may benefit via tailored and specialised courses. The vast majority of the econometric literature suggests that tracking promotes inequality in academic achievement. By contrast, the empirical literature on the impact of tracking on average student performance is inconclusive. Only few studies find a significant association, including both positive and negative estimates.

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Paper provided by Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its series Ifo Working Paper Series with number Ifo Working Papers No. 50.

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Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_50
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  1. Epple, Dennis & Newlon, Elizabeth & Romano, Richard, 2002. "Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-48, January.
  2. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," NBER Working Papers 11124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Matthias Effinger & Mattias Polborn, 1999. "A model of vertically differentiated education," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 69(1), pages 53-69, February.
  4. Ariga, Kenn & Brunello, Giorgio & Iwahashi, Roki & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2006. "On the Efficiency Costs of De-tracking Secondary Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 2534, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Richard Arnott & John Rowse, 1982. "Peer Group Effects and Educational Attainment," Working Papers 497, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  6. Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
  7. David N. Figlio & Marianne E. Page, 2000. "School Choice and the Distributional Effects of Ability Tracking: Does Separation Increase Equality?," NBER Working Papers 8055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2005. "Educational Reform, Ability, and Family Background," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 414-424, March.
  9. Judson, Ruth, 1998. " Economic Growth and Investment in Education: How Allocation Matters," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 337-59, December.
  10. Ariga, Kenn & Brunello, Giorgio & Iwahashi, Roki & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2005. "Why Is the Timing of School Tracking So Heterogeneous?," IZA Discussion Papers 1854, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Pekkarinen, Tuomas & Uusitalo, Roope & Pekkala, Sari, 2006. "Education Policy and Intergenerational Income Mobility: Evidence from the Finnish Comprehensive School Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 2204, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Ludger Wößmann, 2000. "Schooling Resources, Educational Institutions, and Student Performance: The International Evidence," Kiel Working Papers 983, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  13. Bauer, Philipp & Riphahn, Regina T., 2006. "Timing of school tracking as a determinant of intergenerational transmission of education," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 90-97, April.
  14. Zimmer, Ron, 2003. "A new twist in the educational tracking debate," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 307-315, June.
  15. Costrell, Robert M, 1994. "A Simple Model of Educational Standards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 956-71, September.
  16. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Brunello, Giorgio & Checchi, Daniele, 2006. "Does School Tracking Affect Equality of Opportunity? New International Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2348, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Rees, D. I. & Brewer, D. J. & Argys, L. M., 1999. "How should we measure the effect of ability grouping on student performance?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 17-20, February.
  19. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  20. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  21. Brunello, Giorgio & Giannini, Massimo & Ariga, Kenn, 2004. "The Optimal Timing of School Tracking," IZA Discussion Papers 995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. 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.
  23. Volker Meier, 2004. "Choosing between School Systems: The Risk of Failure," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 60(1), pages 83-, April.
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