Even though some countries track students into differing-ability schools by age 10, others keep their entire secondary-school system comprehensive. To estimate the effects of such institutional differences in the face of country heterogeneity, we employ an international differences-in-differences approach. We identify tracking effects by comparing differences in outcome between primary and secondary school across tracked and non-tracked systems. Six international student assessments provide eight pairs of achievement contrasts for between 18 and 26 cross-country comparisons. The results suggest that early tracking increases educational inequality. While less clear, there is also a tendency for early tracking to reduce mean performance. Therefore, there does not appear to be any equity-efficiency trade-off.
Tracking streaming ability grouping selectivity comprehensive school system educational performance inequality international student achievement test TIMSS PISA PIRLS