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Ethnicity and low achievement in English schools

By Geeta Kingdon and Robert Cassen


Tens of thousands of young people leave school with no or very few qualifications in England. This paper asks: what is the ethnic dimension of the low achievement problem? We focus on six aspects, using the National Pupil Database: whether the relation between ethnicity and incidence of low achievement is symmetrical with the relation between ethnicity and achievement; whether economic disadvantage is an equally large risk factor for low achievement among pupils of all ethnicities; whether the relationship of ethnicity with low achievement varies by peer group; whether the relationship between gender and chances of low achievement differs by ethnic group; whether the relation between ethnicity and low achievement changes with age; and lastly, whether there is sorting by ethnicity into schools of better or worse quality. We find that: (1) the relationship between low achievement and achievement is not symmetrical and, therefore, that it is valuable to measure low achievement directly rather than as the negative of achievement; (2) economic disadvantage has a stronger effect on White students than those of ethnic minorities; (3) the relationship between ethnicity and low achievement does vary with age; (4) ethnic peer-group effects are not significant; (5) the gender gap in the probability of low achievement is significantly larger for most ethnic groups compared with the White group, at least by one measure of low achievement; and (6) attending poorer-quality schools is part of the explanation of differential ethnic minority performance. We offer explanations for our findings and for the presence and/or persistence of inter-ethnic differences in the chances of low achievement

Topics: LC Special aspects of education
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1080/01411920902989185
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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