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Balancing School Choice and Equity

An International Perspective Based on Pisa

image of Balancing School Choice and Equity

Many countries are struggling to reconcile greater flexibility in school choice with the need to ensure quality, equity and coherence in their school systems. This report provides an international perspective on issues related to school choice, especially how certain aspects of school-choice policies may be associated with sorting students into different schools. A key question fuelling the school-choice debate is whether greater competition among schools results in more sorting of students by ability or socio-economic status. At the macro level, school segregation can deprive children of opportunities to learn, play and communicate with other children from different social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, which can, in turn, threaten social cohesion. The report draws a comprehensive picture of school segregation, using a variety of indicators in order to account for the diversity of the processes by which students are allocated to schools.

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Measures of segregation

A variety of measures of residential or school segregation have been proposed in the literature (for a review see, for instance, (Frankel and Volij, 2011). These measures may vary by the population groups and geographical areas they consider, as well as by the type of question they try to answer. These measures are always highly correlated. However, they may differ in some cases, as they do not convey exactly the same meaning. A measure taken in isolation provides insights only on one part of the general picture, and the choice of using one or other indicators depends on the particular aspect of segregation one wants to focus on.

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