Is there an opportunity-performance trade-off in secondary education?
Research Memorandum by Per Bles, Rolf van der Velden & Roel J. Ariës
Schools in secondary education face a dilemma. On the one hand, they would like to offer all students opportunities to develop their talent, and on the other hand they want to safeguard a minimum performance level. In tracked systems, this dilemma becomes more consequential as misallocation of students could lead to either denying access to a more optimal track or to lower performance of students that are placed too high. Based on data from the Netherlands Cohort Study on Education (NCO) from 2010 to 2017, we find that only for 55% of schools there is a trade-off between opportunity and performance. These schools show a relative preference for either opportunity or performance. However, in the other schools, opportunity and performance are optimised at the same time; this dimension is related to the quality of the school. While controlling for the school’s potential student population, we show which school characteristics are associated with the relative preference and quality dimensions.