Tracking students in secondary school could increase the effect of parental background (PB) on student performance, especially if parents can influence the track choice. This influence can be either direct or indirect, and either purposefully or not. Little is known about these indirect effects of PB that could arise before tracking has taken place. In the Netherlands the track placement decision of individual students is made by secondary schools that base their decision on two performance signals that they receive from the elementary school of applying students: an elementary school exit test score and an elementary school teacher track recommendation. Using longitudinal data from the Netherlands, I find that high PB parents are able to increase their child’s teacher recommendation (purposefully or not): The odds of having the highest track recommendation as compared to the other recommendations, for students whose parents have a tertiary education degree are between 1.6 and 3.6 times greater than for students whose parents only have a primary education degree. For the math exit test score I find no effect, while for reading an effect is found but not robust.
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