Gianluca Argentin, Gianna Barbieri, Carlo Barone

Social origin, educational counseling and high school enrollment. An analysis based on enrollment data

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Educational Counseling; Teachers' Influence; Educational Inequality; Upper Secondary Education; High School Enrollment.

The essay investigates educational counseling - which is provided by Italian junior high schools for upper secondary education - on a national scale but also focusing on the relevant impact on students from different social backgrounds. In Italy there are essentially two tracks of upper secondary school: a "liceo", which provides a more academic training, and an "istituto", where more practical and technical disciplines are taught. Teachers' guidance on what type of high school to choose tends to favor the academic track when the students come from highly educated families. The analysis suggests that there is a distortion in teachers' advice: at similar levels of school proficiency, teachers tend to promote especially students whose parents are the most highly educated to enroll in a liceo. Counseling appears to affect high school enrolment choices and creates a significant number of side effects. The evidence shows that the greatest distortion occurs in the case of students with medium-level academic performance. The analysis also shows that, among these mid-level adolescents coming from highly educated families who enroll in a liceo, the risk of failure is significantly higher despite teachers' advice to the contrary. On the whole, there is no geographic variance, and the evidence suggests that there is a bias in teachers' advice based on the students' social origin, which reinforces social inequality. Adequate measures need to be introduced to effectively address the way in which teachers counsel students on their high school choices, in order to prevent existing educational inequalities from being reinforced across the country.

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