Achievement inequalities and the impact of educational institutions

“Inequalities in educational achievement, like those by socioeconomic status (SES) and migration background, stand high on the political agenda because they are thought to not only reflect differences in abilities, but also in opportunities. Reducing these inequalities is not only seen as a moral obligation to improve the lives of these children, but also shows that much potential is unused in modern societies. Inequalities in educational achievement vary greatly across countries, within countries over time, and within cohorts over their life course (as shown in a previous ISOTIS report: Rözer and Van de Werfhorst 2017). Yet, countries differ widely on what are identified as crucial aspects of educational systems, like their educational expenditures, teachers¶ salaries and quality of teachers, age of tracking, and the size of the vocational programs, and it is likely that these differences can explain part of the education inequalities. To study how national policies shape educational inequalities, information about a great number of students across a broad set of countries is needed. In recent years, comparative studies of student assessments have enriched the opportunities to learn about the performance of students in many societies. Influential datasets include The Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study , the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). These comparative assessments make it possible to study academic outcomes ranging from grade 4 to adulthood on mathematics, literacy and science.”

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