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Measuring educational equity in Spain and the OECD: a multidimensional analysis using composite indicators

19th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Applied Economics

Senior Researcher : Gabriela Sicilia

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad de La Laguna


The main aim of this project is to provide timely scientific evidence to understand one of the most relevant social challenges: educational equity in the OECD countries (and regions). Since the pioneering work “Equality of educational opportunities” known as the Coleman Report, international evidence shows that family socio-economic background continues to be a key determinant of students' educational achievement. For this reason, interest in improving educational equity is a spotlight in the political and social debate, and represents one of the main educational challenges for governments and international agencies (it has been included as one of the SDG and as a priority educational target of Europe 2020).

International evidence on educational equity also reveals two key facts: (i) there exist notable differences between OECD countries (regions), and (ii) results differ substantively and qualitatively according to the dimension and the indicator used. Thus, it is not possible to have a global perspective or to draw general conclusions about the performance of each educational system or its evolution over time. This project intends to fill this gap, by proposing a novel methodology to reflect the level of educational equity based on a single criterion, but taking into account its multidimensional nature, the specific priorities and heterogeneous characteristics of countries. This methodology will be applied to the latest editions of the most relevant international educational evaluations (PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS).

The conclusions of the project will allow, for the first time, to understand how educational equity in Spain and the OECD has evolved over time, as well as to identify which factors explain the differences between educational systems. In addition to providing a quantitative and timely diagnosis of a social challenge, these results will also allow to evaluate the impact of several educational interventions aimed at promoting equity. Finally, to give visibility and to disseminate the results, this project proposes to develop an online interactive platform to publish the main results. This proposal seeks to transfer the main conclusions of the project to a wide audience, particularly to educational policymakers and authorities to foster an evidence-based public policy design.

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