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ORFEUS - Organizational Differentiation and Educational Inequality in Different School Systems

International survey studies of different school subjects have shown that countries differ greatly in both the level and dispersions of their educational achievement. In fact, one of the explanations proposed for the observed cross-country achievement differences is that different countries vary in the degree of educational inequality. To some, this is counterintuitive but is less surprising when considering that an important category of determinants of cross-nation achievement differences are related to variation in the organizational structure of educational systems. These organizational factors, such as comprehensive vs. selective schooling, free choice of schools, centralized vs. decentralized school finance etc., have been shown to affect the quality and equality in educational outcomes.

Even though the effect of organizational differentiation on socioeconomic inequalities in educational opportunity is widespread, the empirical evidences of the extent to which different countries achieve equal educational opportunities for children from different family backgrounds, conditioned by their organizational differentiation of schools are, however, limited and sometimes inconclusive. It is thus a central research area to investigate, because it could reveal an important feature of each country’s equality of opportunity and because the comparison of equality of educational opportunity across countries may lead to a better understanding of how it may be achieved and why different countries achieve it to a different extent.

The aim of this project is twofold. On the one hand, it intends to investigate the trend in the SES effect on educational achievement in different educational systems at individual, school and system levels. On the other hand, it examines the cross-national differences in effects of organizational differentiation on educational inequality. Spoken differently, two very important determinants of educational outcome will be examined, namely, SES of students and organizational differentiation of school. Several studies are to be carried out, with which cross-country comparisons of different mechanisms behind the effects of organizational differentiation on educational inequality will be made.

There are method difficulties to investigate the effects of organizational difficulties on educational equality and performance level. First is the omitted variable problem. Within each country the implementation of institutional changes will accompanied and interacts with other characteristics of schools and their student’s intakes. For example, there is a confounding effect of tracking and parental choice of school and residential area, which is most likely mediate with peers and linearly or non-linearly affects student’s learning outcome. Lack of variation for within-country variation is another method difficulty. With the help of Difference-i-Difference method, and Instrument Variable regression these problems can be eliminated and dealt with. Multilevel analysis will also be used in the analysis of cross-country differences in changes of level and variances of educational achievement, with respect to SES, gender and ethnicity.

The following research problems will be dealt with to explain effects of organizational differentiation across different educational systems:
1. Cross-country differences in the achievement variation at individual and school levels, with respect to SES, Gender and Ethnicity;
2. Cross-country differences in tracking effects on educational inequality in terms of level and variation of academic achievement; and
3. Cross-country differences in the mediating effect of peer on educational inequality.

The research project takes advantage of one of the most prominent features of the field of education, the so-called namely the international comparative studies of educational achievement. At an increasing rate, these studies produce data that researchers can use in secondary analyses to describe differences between and within countries, and as a basis for investigating effects of different educational and societal factors. The international studies form, furthermore, a hotly debated phenomenon, which attracts considerable media attention and which has profound and dynamic influences on educational policies, so the studies warrant critical scrutiny.



Kajsa Yang Hansen
+46 (0) 31 786 2397

Contact Information

Department of education and special education

PO Box 300, SE 405 30 Gothenburg

Visiting Address:
Pedagogen A, Västra Hamngatan 25

+46 (0)31 786 0000

+46 (0)31 786 2070

Page Manager: Anders Åkerström|Last update: 7/2/2012

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