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Session Overview
RN10_03c: Segregation, choice and enrolment
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Bernadette Brereton, Dundalk Institute of Technology
Location: UP.3.212
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Third Floor Oxford Road

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School Of Choice Or Schools’ Choice? Intersectional Correspondence Testing On Ethnic And Class Discrimination In The Enrolment Procedure To Flemish Kindergarten

Dounia Bourabain1, Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe1, Peter Stevens2

1Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; 2Universiteit Gent, Belgium

In comparison to other countries, parents in Belgium have relatively more freedom to enroll their children into their school of preference without restrictions. Simultaneously, schools are highly autonomous with regard to enrolment procedures. Due to this dynamic, we can wonder whether every child has the same chances in accessing schools, especially in the era of superdiversity in Western countries. This research used correspondence testing to investigate ethnic- and class-discrimination in the enrolment to Flemish kindergarten (N=2243). Results show that not only parents, but schools play a considerable role in the decision-making process. Schools act as gatekeepers using subtle discriminatory strategies to enroll the perceived “model” students and keep students with an underprivileged background out.

Segregation In German Pre-School Education And Its Effects On Free Primary School Choice

Isabel Ramos Lobato

ILS - Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development, Germany

In the year 2008, school catchment areas were abolished in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany. Free primary school choice was promoted as a chance for families living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods to access other and possibly ‘better’ schools than those in their immediate living environment as well as to enforce a “responsible competition” between schools. However, this market-led school reform has rather led to an increase of primary school segregation (Groos 2015).

Parents´ strategies of social distinction and their impact on school segregation have already been widely discussed (Ball 2003; Butler & Robson 2003; Boterman 2012; Vowden 2012; van Zanten 2013). Less attention has been paid to pre-school education and its role in reinforcing segregation in primary schools. However, as effective brokers of social ties (Small 2009), childcare centres constitute an important setting to facilitate and maintain relationships between parents and to influence their views on schooling. Therefore, this paper takes one step back in children’s ‘educational career’. Based on interviews with parents (35 in total) recruited in three socially and ethnically mixed childcare centres and interviews with heads of primary schools and childcare centres (15 in total), it examines the role of pre-school networks for choice – both as a source of information and as an opportunity to accumulate (local) social capital. The article thus seeks to analyse the extent to which pre-school networks produce common norms of schooling or rather reinforce segregating choices and thus pave the way for segregated educational pathways. The empirical analysis took place in Mülheim an der Ruhr, a German city in the federal state of NRW.

The Educational Trajectories of Second-Generation Students Towards Higher Education: the Italian Case

Alessandro Bozzetti

University of Bologna, Italy

Nowadays Italy is experiencing an increasing migratory presence also in the higher educational paths. Despite the fact that several researchers explored the presence of second-generation students in primary and secondary schools, the state of research on their presence in Italian Universities is still very poor. This lack of information is very relevant, if we think about the role that the social, cultural and economic background plays in educational choices.

In this contribution, the presence of second-generation immigrant students in Italian universities will be first contextualized from a numerical point of view, paying attention to the role played by variables such as age, gender, and the previous educational path at the time of the transition to Higher Education.

The contribution will then focus on the empirical research carried out at the University of Bologna, one of the main Italian universities by number of students and by the presence of second-generation students. The final aim is to describe the opportunities and the difficulties of second-generation students enrolled at the university. To achieve this goal, the research path has been divided into two different levels, a quantitative and a qualitative one, according to the mixed methods approach: starting from the 537 questionnaires and the 30 interviews collected, the contribution will highlight the students’ motivations for the choice of long-term educational paths and the role played by family, teachers and educational institutions in inspiring that choice.

All these aspects seem highlighting the difficulty in managing cultural diversity both for individuals (teachers or family members) and for (institutional and educational) contexts, which can lead to a social construction of ethnicity in the educational processes.

Developing Diversity Sensitive, Evidence-Based Student Selection Toolkit

Anastasia Kurysheva, Gönül Dilaver

Utrecht University/University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, The

In the face of increasing graduate application numbers, generating a solid evidence–base for selective admissions becomes an evermore pressing issue. At the same time, too narrow a focus on identifying potential selection criteria which can be shown to be predictive of future study success might perpetuate exclusionary mechanisms and jeopardize the diversity of the student body.

Using data on 2000 students for the last six academic years at a large Dutch graduate school with research-oriented two-year Master’s programmes, this study aims first, to determine the predictive value of different undergraduate academic achievement indicators for student preparedness for successful education on a graduate level and second, to examine whether this predictive value differs per groups of students from different demographical and previous education backgrounds. The overarching goal is to develop a validated student selection toolkit and monitor potential consequences for the diversity of the student population.

For the analysis, a multilevel regression approach is used, where students are nested in classes and classes are nested in study programmes.

Preliminary results show that both bachelor’s GPA and research project grades are predictive of a number of graduate outcomes (including performance at the research internships and overall GPA). Moreover, the bachelor’s research project grade is the strongest predictor and it has an incremental validity over the bachelor’s GPA. From a practical perspective the results imply that the graduate admission committees should specifically consider the grades for bachelor’s research projects when making an admission decision.

Different strategies for consolidating evidence-based selection criteria aimed at improving academic achievements with enhancing diversity amongst students are discussed.

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