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The Heterogeneous Effect of Selection in Secondary Schools: Understanding the Changing Role of Ability

  • Galindo-Rueda, Fernando

    ()

    (Office of National Statistics)

  • Vignoles, Anna

    ()

    (University of Cambridge)

Previous work by the authors suggested that during the 1970s and 1980s, a person’s early cognitive ability became a less important determinant of his or her eventual educational achievement. Furthermore, over the same time period, family background started to have a greater impact on a person’s achievement. Given that this coincided with the gradual demise of the British selective grammar school system, it would seem that the role of selection (ability tracking) in the school system merits further investigation. This paper explores the inter-relationship between school selection, ability and educational achievement. Our regression and matching results indicate that the most able pupils in the selective school system did do better than those of similar ability in the mixed ability school system. We do not find evidence of significant negative effects of tracking for low/middle ability students.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1245.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: P. Peterson and L. Woessmann (eds.), Schools and the Equal Opportunity Problem, MIT Press: 2007
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1245
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  1. Anne West & Hazel Pennell, 1997. "Educational Reform and School Choice in England and Wales," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 285-305.
  2. Fernando Galindo-Rueda & Anna Vignoles, 2004. "The Declining Relative Importance Of Ability In Predicting Educational Attainment," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 40, Royal Economic Society.
  3. Dearden, Lorraine & Machin, Stephen & Reed, Howard, 1997. "Intergenerational Mobility in Britain," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 47-66, January.
  4. Feinstein, Leon & Symons, James, 1999. "Attainment in Secondary School," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 300-321, April.
  5. Lorraine Dearden & Javier Ferri & Costas Meghir, 2000. "The effect of school quality on educational attainment and wages," IFS Working Papers W00/22, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  6. Janet Currie & Duncan Thomas, 1999. "Early Test Scores, Socioeconomic Status and Future Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 6943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Roland Benabou & Francis Kramarz & Corinne Prost, 2003. "Zones d’Education Prioritaire : Quels moyens pour quels résultats ?," Working Papers 2003-38, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  9. 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.
  10. Colm Harmon & Ian Walker, 1997. "Selective Schooling, School Quality, and Labour Market Returns," Keele Department of Economics Discussion Papers (1995-2001) 97/06, Department of Economics, Keele University.
  11. Dearden, Lorraine, 1999. "The effects of families and ability on men's education and earnings in Britain1," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 551-567, November.
  12. David Jesson, . "The Comparative Evaluation of GCSE Value-Added Performance by Type of School and LEA," Discussion Papers 00/52, Department of Economics, University of York.
  13. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 2003. "Changes in Educational Inequality," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/079, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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