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Inequality in educational recommendations : does a school’s policy on track placement make a difference?

(2017)
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Abstract
Research on tracking has been giving growing attention to the process of how pupils are allocated to tracks. Across European countries, pupils with a low socio-economic status (SES) have a higher probability of choosing a less-demanding option at the transition from primary to secondary education, irrespective of prior achievement (Boone & Van Houtte, 2013; Ditton & Krüsken, 2006; Duru-Bellat, 2002; Kloosterman, Ruiter, de Graaf, & Kraaykamp, 2009). In Flanders this transition has considerable effects on student’s later educational opportunities. Allocation procedures can influence the extent to which pupils’ assignment to tracks is determined by their SES. Previous Flemish research has shown that teacher recommendations are often biased by pupils’ SES. Research into educational choice has neglected the school context, while school effectiveness research is clear about the influence of schools on the quality and equity of education. In recent Flemish school effectiveness literature, a particular focus on the policy-making capacity of schools is evident, because schools have been receiving an increasing amount of autonomy in making educational decisions (Vanhoof, Deneire & Van Petegem, 2011). A school’s policy making capacity is described as the ability to independently build up a policy, taking into account the accepted policy alternatives by the government and the targets set by the school. A school policy is a summary of providing opportunities to professionalize for teachers, having a clear mission for the school and undertaking actions to help teachers having a clear understanding of what they are expected to do (Creemers & Kyriakides, 2008). Research has shown that a school policy is beneficial for student achievement, because it leads to more effective teaching practices. Following this reasoning, our study investigates whether primary schools with a high policy-making capacity regarding educational choice guidance can influence the social inequality in educational choice through more effective, less biased recommendations. Data were gathered in May 2015, in 36 Flemish primary schools, from 1049 pupils in sixth grade. Hierarchical logistic analyses show that, at high policy-making schools, the difference in educational choice between pupils from a low and high SES background gets larger. At schools with a high policy-making capacity, students with a high SES background have a higher probability of choosing a more demanding academic option, compared to students with high SES backgrounds in low policy making schools. Further analyses clarify this by using the perceptions of teachers on educational recommendations.

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Chicago
Thys, Sarah, and Mieke Van Houtte. 2017. “Inequality in Educational Recommendations : Does a School’s Policy on Track Placement Make a Difference?” In .
APA
Thys, Sarah, & Van Houtte, M. (2017). Inequality in educational recommendations : does a school’s policy on track placement make a difference? Presented at the European Conference on Educational Research.
Vancouver
1.
Thys S, Van Houtte M. Inequality in educational recommendations : does a school’s policy on track placement make a difference? 2017.
MLA
Thys, Sarah, and Mieke Van Houtte. “Inequality in Educational Recommendations : Does a School’s Policy on Track Placement Make a Difference?” 2017. Print.
@inproceedings{8541234,
  abstract     = {Research on tracking has been giving growing attention to the process of how pupils are allocated to tracks. Across European countries, pupils with a low socio-economic status (SES) have a higher probability of choosing a less-demanding option at the transition from primary to secondary education, irrespective of prior achievement (Boone \& Van Houtte, 2013; Ditton \& Kr{\"u}sken, 2006; Duru-Bellat, 2002; Kloosterman, Ruiter, de Graaf, \& Kraaykamp, 2009). In Flanders this transition has considerable effects on student{\textquoteright}s later educational opportunities. Allocation procedures can influence the extent to which pupils{\textquoteright} assignment to tracks is determined by their SES. Previous Flemish research has shown that teacher recommendations are often biased by pupils{\textquoteright} SES. 
Research into educational choice has neglected the school context, while school effectiveness research is clear about the influence of schools on the quality and equity of education. In recent Flemish school effectiveness literature, a particular focus on the policy-making capacity of schools is evident, because schools have been receiving an increasing amount of autonomy in making educational decisions (Vanhoof, Deneire \& Van Petegem, 2011). A school{\textquoteright}s policy making capacity is described as the ability to independently build up a policy, taking into account the accepted policy alternatives by the government and the targets set by the school. A school policy is a summary of providing opportunities to professionalize for teachers, having a clear mission for the school and undertaking actions to help teachers having a clear understanding of what they are expected to do (Creemers \& Kyriakides, 2008). Research has shown that a school policy is beneficial for student achievement, because it leads to more effective teaching practices. Following this reasoning, our study investigates whether primary schools with a high policy-making capacity regarding educational choice guidance can influence the social inequality in educational choice through more effective, less biased recommendations. 
Data were gathered in May 2015, in 36 Flemish primary schools, from 1049 pupils in sixth grade. Hierarchical logistic analyses show that, at high policy-making schools, the difference in educational choice between pupils from a low and high SES background gets larger. At schools with a high policy-making capacity, students with a high SES background have a higher probability of choosing a more demanding academic option, compared to students with high SES backgrounds in low policy making schools. Further analyses clarify this by using the perceptions of teachers on educational recommendations. },
  author       = {Thys, Sarah and Van Houtte, Mieke},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Copenhagen},
  title        = {Inequality in educational recommendations : does a school{\textquoteright}s policy on track placement make a difference?},
  year         = {2017},
}