Students in the city

The links between school choices, neighbourhood characteristics and the differentiation of school-level outcomes

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Venla Bernelius

Abstract
Despite the international success of Finnish comprehensive school students, the national achievement gap between schools has widened, especially in the capital region. The differentiation of urban schools has been linked to socio-economic and ethnic differentiation of neighbourhoods, as each school primarily draws its student base from the surrounding catchment area. This article explores the role of school choice in the differentiation of the comprehensive schools’ student base and educational outcomes. Based on the analysis, the school choices of comprehensive school students are strongly linked to the socio-economic and ethnic composition of schools and school catchment areas, as well as school outcomes. The students opting for choice also have a higher attainment level than others. The choices of school thus appear to be selective and act as a mechanism of further differentiation of schools also in the Finnish context.
Keywords: school choice, educational outcomes, urban differentiation, sorting

Venla Bernelius

FT, yliopistonlehtori (aluetiede), Geotieteiden ja maantieteen laitos, Helsingin yliopisto