XREAP2010-13: School Composition Effects in Spain

Drawing on PISA data of 2006, this study examines the impact of socio-economic school composition on science test score achievement for Spanish students in compulsory secondary schools. We define school composition in terms of the average parental human capital of students in the same school. These contextual peer effects are estimated using a semi-parametric methodology, which enables the spillovers to affect all the parameters of the educational production function. We also deal with the potential problem of self-selection of student into schools, using an artificial sorting that we argue to be independent from unobserved student’s abilities. The results indicate that the association between socio-economic school composition and test score results is clearly positive and significantly higher when computed with the semi-parametric approach. However, we find that the endogenous sorting of students into schools plays a fundamental role, given that the spillovers are significantly reduced when this selection process is ruled out from our measure of school composition effects. Specifically, the estimations suggest that the contextual peer effects are moderately positive only in those schools where the socio-economic composition is considerably elevated. In addition, we find some evidence of asymmetry of how the external effects and the sorting process actually operate, which seem affect in a different way males and females as well as high and low performance students.

Di Paolo, A. (GEAP & IEB)