P. Montanaro

Regional Gaps in Learning in Italy's Schools: Evidence from National and International Surveys

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Education Quality; External Evaluation; Regional Gaps

Recent international surveys have tested the education level of students from different countries, highlighting that Italian students are significantly behind other ones. Furthermore, such surveys agree to outline a differentiated landscape within Italy, in which Southern students show a lower education level in all the subjects analysed - ability to understand a text, mathematics, science, problem solving. These territorial differentials are more stressed in technical and vocational schools and less stressed in liceo schools, and they trend towards an increase over school years. In the Mezzogiorno, also the dispersion of results among students appears to be higher. The framework emerged from external data does not correspond to that outlined by school marks. In fact, the correlation between "external" and "internal" results appears very weak, revealing little capacity of the school evaluation system to adequately report the actual students' education level. The characteristics of students' families of origin have a strong impact on the education level, especially during the years of compulsory education. In particular, a significant part of the gap between the North and the Mezzogiorno is attributable to students coming from disadvantaged families. Passing to secondary schools, family influence appears weakened, once considered the type of school attended and, chiefly, the different characteristics of the schools attended, suggesting that families influence above all the choice of the school.

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