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Does Tracking Affect the Importance of Family Background on Student’s Test Scores?

By Fabian Waldinger


This study investigates whether tracking students according to ability affects the importance of family background on student’s educational test scores. Using data from the PISA 2003, PISA 2000 and the PIRLS 2001 studies this paper uses the cross-country variation in tracking policies to identify the effect of tracking. The results indicate that family background is more important in countries, which track students early in a simple cross section. Using a difference-in-differences methodology to control for unobserved country level variables I find, however, that the importance of family background does not increase after actual tracking has taken place. This result is very different to the findings of two concurrent papers using a similar approach. Both of these papers …nd that tracking affects educational equity. Using a number of robustness checks, however, I find that the results presented in this research are robust to using different tracking measures, datasets and speci…cations

Year: 2005
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