Tracking in Israeli high schools: social inequality after 50 years of educational reforms

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This paper looks at how the Israeli system of sorting children into one of five programmes for their upper secondary school education affects their higher education attainment and earning prospects in their early thirties.

The research is set in the context of three major programmes of education reform that have taken place in Israel since the 1970s and which were aimed at reducing social inequality.

Using combined administrative and census data, the research looks at the outcomes of Israelis born between 1978 and 1981 and shows a clear link for both Jewish and Arab students between the prestige or selectiveness of the education pathway followed and their social background.

Jewish students on the higher tracks were also more likely to go to degree level study and earn more at the age of 34.

Although the findings do not follow an academic/vocational divide, a key finding is that the remedial Basic Academic programme which replaced a more vocational programme for low-achieving students, has not improved the life chances of its participants compared with other tracks. Even though they are more likely to go on to take a degree than their vocational counterparts, their earnings are lower.

This is part of a special issue prepared by the LIFETRACK project. Other articles of this special issue can be found here.