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[en] For several decades, sociological research has studied determinants of educational inequalities, whereby most researches have focused on individual students’ characteristics (e.g., Boudon, 1974; Bourdieu, 1984), though others also considered system variables such as school composition and segregation (e.g., Jencks, 1974). However, few studies have addressed the possible interaction of system and student characteristics in relation to student academic outcomes (Gross et al., 2016).
Educational inequalities in Luxembourg – with a highly stratified, multilingual education system, further characterised by a large proportion of students with a 1st or 2nd generation migrant status - are related to student characteristics (i.e., socio-economic status and migration status) (e.g., Lenz & Heinz, 2018) as well as schools’ social composition (Martins & Veiga, 2010).
The present study aimed to investigate especial the intersectional impact of students´ academic and socio-demographic characteristics, school composition and school tracks on students’ academic performance in Luxembourg. It draws on longitudinal data collected as part of the Luxembourg school monitoring programme “Épreuves Standardisées” (ÉpStan; Fischbach et al., 2014) and included all students enrolled in public education Grade 3 (November 2013) matched with data from the same students in Grade 9 (November 2017-2021) including those repeating once or twice (N≈3600).
Results of multilevel mixed effects regression analyses show that both Math and language achievement in Grade 9 is affected by student characteristics (gender, SES, migration background and prior achievement), as well as by the school track and school composition (i.e., percentage of Low SES families in 3rd Grade). In addition, some cross-level interaction effects were found. For example, results show that after controlling for prior performance and other individual characteristics, the gender gap in math achievement is more pronounced in the higher than in the middle school track.
These results indicate that not only student and system variables, but also their intersectionality affect student achievement outcomes. More specifically, accounting for socio-demographic student characteristics and prior achievement, our results demonstrate a long-term effect of school composition on students´ educational pathways. Student and system characteristics have a direct effect on academic achievement as well as an indirect effect via school tracking. Furthermore, student and system variables interact such that achievement differences between certain groups of students (e.g., boys) may be exacerbated by system characteristics (i.e., school composition).
Results will be discussed in relation to theory as well as their possible implications for tailored policy making.
Boudon, R. (1974). Education, opportunity and social inequality: changing prospects in Western society. Wiley.
Bourdieu, P. (1984). Distinction: A social critique of the Judgement of taste (translated by R. Nice). Harvard University Press.
Fischbach, A., Ugen, S., & Martin, R. (2014). ÉpStan Technical Report. University of Luxembourg ECCS research unit/LUCET. www.epstan.lu
Gross, C., Gottburgsen, A., & Phoenix, A. (2016). Education systems and intersectionality. In A. Hadjar & C. Gross (Eds.), Education systems and inequalities (pp. 51–72). Policy Press.
Jencks, C. (1974). Inequality: A re-assessment of the effect of family and schooling in America. Lane.
Lenz, T., & Heinz, A. (2018). Das Luxemburgische Schulsystem: Einblicke und Trends. In T. Lentz, I. Baumann, & A. Küpper. (Eds.), Nationaler Bildungsbericht Luxemburg 2018 (pp. 22–34). Université du Luxembourg (LUCET) & SCRIPT.
Martins, L., & Veiga, P. (2010). Do inequalities in parents’ education play an important role in PISA students’ mathematics achievement test score disparities? Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 1016–1033. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econedurev.2010.05.001