Achievement inequality and the institutional structure of educational systems: A comparative perspective

Herman G. Van de Werfhorst, Jonathan J.B. Mijs

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349 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We review the comparative literature on the impact of national-level educational institutions on inequality in student achievement. We focus on two types of institutions that characterize the educational system of a country: the system of school-type differentiation (between-school tracking) and the level of standardization (e.g., with regard to central examinations and school autonomy). Two types of inequality are examined: inequality in terms of dispersion of student test scores and inequality of opportunity by social background and race/ethnicity. We conclude from this literature, which mostly uses PISA, TIMSS, and/or PIRLS data, that inequalities are magnified by national-level tracking institutions and that standardization decreases inequality. Methodological issues are discussed, and possible avenues for further research are suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-428
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
Volume36
Early online date20 Apr 2010
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2010

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