In this paper we investigate how several national educational policies and practices influence both students' average reading achievement and the social distributioll of achievement within schools and countries. Data come fJ:om the 2000/2001 administration of PISA (programme for International Student Assessment) by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developrnent (OECD). They include observations from 212,880 lS-year-old students attending 8,038 secondary schools, which are located in 39 countries. We analyze these data with three-level Hierarchical Linear Models (HLM), with students nested in schools, which are nested within countries. Results focus on the role played by three country-level educational policies: (1) retention/repetition; (2) the mix of students in schools based on socioeconomic status (school social mix); and vocational education. We explore how these policies influence the social distribution of achievemer.t between schools within countries. Implications of these findings are discussed
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