Selection on performance and tracking

Roxanne Korthals*, Jaap Dronkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Tracking is widely used in secondary schools around the world. Some countries put more emphasis on the use of performance to place students into tracks (e.g. the Netherlands), while in other countries parents have more influence on the track their child will go to (e.g. Germany). This article examines whether selection into tracks based on performance has an effect on the relation between tracking and student performance and educational opportunities. Using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment for around 185000 students in 31 countries, different estimation models are compared. The results indicate that a highly differentiated system is best for performance when schools always consider prior performance when deciding on student acceptance. In systems with a few tracks, there is no such impact. Equality of opportunity is best provided for in a system with many tracks when schools always consider prior performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2836-2851
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Economics
Issue number30
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Tracking
  • inequality
  • student performance
  • PISA


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