Inequity in School Achievement in Latin America: Multilevel Analysis of SERCE Results According to the Socioeconomic Status of Students

May 2010
This document analyzes differences in the academic achievement of Latin American students based on the socioeconomic status of their families. Using the database from the Second Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (SERCE) conducted in 2006, a significant positive relationship was confirmed between the socioeconomic status of students and SERCE results, both region-wide and for each participating country. If this relationship is broken down into two different levels (within the schools and between the schools), variations in socioeconomic status explain a significant part of the variability in test scores between the schools and, to a lesser degree, the variability within the schools. The result is a high level of socioeconomic segregation between the schools, which, in turn, accentuates the relationship between student socioeconomic status and test results. The poorest students are punished first by their socioeconomic status and then again by studying in schools attended chiefly by children of poor families, thus deepening the inequity in school achievement. Findings suggest several courses of action for public policy, tailored to each country¿s profiles of educational equity.