Aiming High and Missing the Mark? Educational Choice, Dropout Risk, and Achievement in Upper Secondary Education among Children of Immigrants in Denmark

Although children of immigrant origin in many European countries are observed to choose higher levels of education than native-origin peers at similar levels of academic performance, little is known about the outcomes of these high-aspiring choices. Using administrative register data covering all children born in 1994–1995 in Denmark, I examine whether the high-aspiring educational choices of children of immigrants convert into educational success or, conversely, into low grades and increased dropout rates. I find that, compared with children of Danish origin, children of immigrants are not only more likely to enrol in academic upper secondary education but also make more ambitious track and subject choices at this educational level. These ethnic choice effects are particularly pronounced at low levels of academic performance. Applying a counterfactual re-weighting approach, I show that, although ethnic choice effects reduce the ethnic gap in overall attainment of academic upper secondary education, they also widen ethnic gaps in dropout rates and achievement. My findings indicate that high aspirations among ethnic minorities operate as a double-edged sword as they help close the educational gap between them and their native-origin peers but at the cost of inducing academically weaker students to embark on less feasible educational trajectories.

Tracking in the Italian Education System

In this report, we provide an overview of tracking, that is the choice of the type of secondary school, in Italy. First, we describe the structure of the Italian education system and its main reforms. We detail broad and curricular tracking both between and within schools. We focus on upper secondary school, since in Italy the school tracks branch at this node. Second, we use the Italian Household Longitudinal Study (IHLS) data to illustrate both the trends in educational attainment and the educational trajectories for four birth cohorts (1927-47, 1948-57, 1958-67 and 1968-77). Third, we report the pattern of association between tracking and social inequality for the 1958-67 birth cohort. Specifically, we show that parental education and social class of origin are strongly correlated to track placement. Moreover, the choice of upper secondary school is associated to the final educational attainment and the position in the labor market at occupational maturity. Furthermore, tracking mediates almost half of the association between social background and educational and labor market outcomes.

Tracking and Sorting in the German Educational System. Literature review and analyses of the birth cohorts 1970-1980

This report reviews the key modes of creating social dispersion in the German educational system by sorting students into distinct groups based on performance or choice. It describes the basic structure of the German educational system and the specific modes of sorting at the different stages of education from early childhood education and care until tertiary education, building on country-specific literature, administrative documents and official data. It places a specific focus on secondary schooling, where formal tracking is most prevalent. The report is complemented by descriptive analyses for the birth cohorts 1970-1980 in West Germany based on data from the National Educational Panel Study, Starting Cohort 6. It describes their educational pathways, the role of social origin in track placement, the long-term consequences of tracking, and its contribution to long-term social inequality. Findings based on new data covering detailed educational biographies show that the three different tracks lead to different educational and vocational trajectories; at the same time, there are manifold ways to reach similar attainment and to upgrade previous certificates. Parental resources (in terms of education or occupational class) are strongly associated with track placement. While students’ track location at different ages increases its importance in predicting educational outcomes, occupational measures are found to be less sensitive to respondents’ track location. This is especially true for unemployment and earnings. Finally, track placement at the beginning of lower secondary education accounts from on third to half of the difference in educational and labour market attainment due to social background and subsequent track mobility further mediates social background differences. A next step will be to investigate to which extent the effect of track placement is due to individuals’ self-selection into tracks.

Tracking and Sorting in the French Educational System

This paper provides an overview of tracking policies in secondary education in France. Drawing on two large datasets on educational trajectories and labour-market outcomes, it identifies patterns of social inequalities associated with track allocation in secondary education. It assesses the long-term consequences of track assignment and its mediating role in the association between social origin and occupational outcomes. Results confirm the large association between social origin and track allocation on the one hand, and between track attainment and higher education and labour-market outcomes at occupational maturity on the other hand. We also find that track attainment accounts for a large share of the association between social origin, measured either by parental education or by social class, and outcomes at occupational maturity. These results highlight the importance of tracking policies for social stratification in the French context.

Tracking and sorting in the Finnish educational system

This report gives a brief overview of educational tracking and sorting in the Finnish educational system. In Finland, students are divided into different tracks relatively late even though between and within-school tracking exists at all educational levels in some forms. In this report, we present descriptive empirical analyses of long-term consequences of educational tracking by social origin using full population Finnish register data. According to our analyses, parental education and parental social class are associated with track choice at upper secondary and tertiary education. Track choice at upper secondary education is also associated with several outcomes at occupational maturity, such as final educational attainment, social class, earnings and unemployment. Track choice at tertiary education partly explains these associations but the coefficients remain statistically significant in most of the cases. Furthermore, our decomposition analyses show a direct effect of social origin on outcomes at occupational maturity which is not explained by track choice at upper secondary and tertiary education.

Educational tracking and sorting in England

This report provides an overview and brief literature review of the English education system and the relevant educational reforms in relation to educational tracking and sorting. We employ the term ‘tracking’ when referring to formal educational differentiation, while ‘sorting’ refers to informal educational differentiation. The main objective is to provide a descriptive empirical analysis that identifies the long-term consequences of educational tracking and sorting on educational and occupational attainment. We also explore to what extent educational tracking/sorting characteristics mediate the relationship between social class of origin and destination. We use the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) to provide empirical evidence for a mature cohort, mainly focusing on the role of school type and attaining a degree from a prestigious university as the main forms of educational tracking and sorting.

The Structure, Causes, and Consequences of Tracking in the Danish Education System

This report provides an overview over the institutional configuration of the Danish educational system and its development over time with a focus
on inequalities in educational attainment. We draw on population data from Danish administrative registers and we describe the development of
educational attainment including track choices and field of study specializations for individuals born from 1960-1986. This cohort range
was chosen in light of relevant institutional reforms of the Danish school system that led to changes in between- or within-school tracking.
However, the bulk of our analyses that provide a detailed picture of tracking and tracking consequences, are based on the 1975 cohort. The
first chapter provides a description of the basic structure of the Danish educational system and highlights some of the major educational reforms.
In chapter two, we follow the historical development of educational attainment. Chapter three describes the flow of individuals (born in 1975)
through the educational system. Chapter four analyses the long-term consequences associated with track choices. Finally, in chapter five some
basic decomposition analyses are presented that help us to explain to what extent the association between social origin and the attainment tertiary degrees or labor market outcomes is mediated by prior track choices.

Compensatory or multiplicative advantage? Parental resources, school achievement and access to higher education in Finland

The rules of intake, which determine how educational institutions are accessed, play a significant part in generating intergenerational educational inequalities. Different rules may allow parental resources to compensate for students’ lack of resources (such as academic ability) or to multiply and boost only those students who are in a position to use such additional resources. In this paper, we study compensation and multiplication of resources in the context of the Finnish higher education system. Entrance exams and a dual model (universities and polytechnics) make this system unique compared to many other Western countries and hence suitable for this study. Using high-quality register data, we studied the interaction between parental education and school achievement in the transition to higher education. We found that well-performing students are likely to access university if their parents have higher education, and to polytechnics, if their parents have basic or secondary education. Poorly performing students whose parents have higher education are likely to access polytechnics, but poorly performing students whose parents do not have a tertiary-level education are not likely to access higher education at all. Overall, our results suggest that compensatory advantage operates in accessing lower-threshold institutions and multiplicative advantage in accessing highly selective institutions.