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posted on 08.10.2018by Eva Andersson, Pontus Hennerdal, Bo Malmberg
Abstract: Against the background of a liberalization of Swedish
compulsory education, this paper analyses post-1991 shifts in the way
compulsory education performance in Sweden has been shaped by parental
background, residential context and school context. We can document increasing
school and residential segregation of foreign background students and, after
2008, increasing segregation by income, employment status, and social allowance
reception. Over time, educational performance has become increasingly linked to
family, neighbourhood and school context. The greatest change has been for
parental background, but the importance of school context and neighbourhood context
has also increased. A noteworthy finding is that residential context
consistently has a stronger effect on student performance than school context.
Student grades were found to be most strongly influenced by the closest (12 or
25) residential peers of the school leavers as compared to larger peer groups.
The increase in the influence of family, neighbourhood and residential context
has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the between-school variation
(ICC) in student performance, but it was not until after 2005 that this
increased variability became clearly linked to the social composition of the
schools. This study’s results suggest that the restructuring of Swedish
compulsory education has had consequences for equality, possibly because disadvantaged
social groups have not been as able as advantaged groups to navigate and
benefit from the educational landscape created by the school reforms.