Quality and Inequality in Eastern European Education Systems
International Master in Social Policy Analysis CEPS/INSTEAD Differdange, Luxembourg
Centre for Sociological Research K.U. Leuven Leuven, Belgium
Educational success or failure is the result of interplay between both individual and structural-level determinants. This paper aims to estimate these effects for 13 Eastern European countries by using data for approximately 65000 15-year old students taking part in PISA 2006 study. Preliminary analysis at the individual level tells us that the explanatory power of the familial background varies from lowest 7-8% in Montenegro and Latvia, to 17-19% in Romania and Czech Republic.
The exploration goes beyond the individual background, and the effect of schools, curricular differentiation and tracking is taken into account. Preliminary analysis shows that in countries where all the students follow the same track, the educational achievement remains high, or at least on OECD average level (i.e. Poland and Estonia). On the other hand, countries with two and more tracks have large achievement gaps between students, with largest distances observed in Croatia, Romania and Slovenia. The only exception in this case is Czech Republic, where students in both academic and vocational programmes perform above the OECD level of 500 points.
The preliminary results evolve around following observations. Firstly, the effect of the familial background can be mitigated by the structure of education system. Secondly, the inequality in performance in stratified systems results from the quality of teaching (after controlling for the individual background effects). And thirdly, the quality and education policies should be carefully examined in a number of countries, such as Bulgaria, Montenegro and Romania, the weakest performing countries among all. The study aims to provide some basic insights into the education processes in Eastern European societies that can be used for further studies in educational and socio-economic mobility, studies on typologies of education systems, i.e. the comparison between Western and Eastern educational systems and others.