01/01/2010 Education Psychology
DOI: 10.1057/9780230277335_3 SemanticScholar ID: 151663315 MAG: 2500913681

Why Schools Might Matter

Publication Summary

As outlined at the start of Chapter 2, a growth in international comparative studies has led to considerable interest in isolating the desirable designed attributes of different school systems (McGaw 2008). The traditional approach to the design of school systems in developed countries tends to be based on a principle of educational effectiveness, seeking to improve standards of education as assessed by public test results, so leading to higher rankings in international comparative tests. Who goes to school with who is usually said to matter because there is generally believed to be a peer effect on attainment. A system of select ive schools clusters the most able and least able pupils separately in order to provide learning and instruction at the most appropriate level for their different intakes. In addition, the mere act of attending school with others like them is meant to improve the attainment of pupils. This principle can lead to overtly selective systems, such as those in Germany or Austria, where pupils are allocated to schools on the basis of earlier attainment or purported talent. The idea is that each pupil is then taught with their similar peers, and provided with an appropriate education, such as academic, technical or vocational pathways. Another form of selection occurs indirectly where pupils are sorted into school by factors other than academic selection, such as religion, ability to pay, ability to travel, or neighbourhood (as they are in several of the countries involved in our new study — see Chapter 6).

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Stephen Gorard

Prof. Stephen Gorard

University of Durham - Professor in the School of Education

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