Ethnicity gaps in educational attainment

Funder: John Fell Fund (£7,463); Principal Investigator: Daniel Caro; Collaborators: Professor Steve Strand, Dr. Jenny Lenkeit (University of Amsterdam).

This research project on ethnicity gaps in educational attainment is a pilot initiative in England that will guide the preparation of a grant proposal for a larger-scale study involving an international collaboration between England, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Our working hypothesis for this research is that measures of family socio-economic background used in assessment studies neglect specific cultural, social, and economic characteristics of disadvantaged ethnic groups that are important to their educational attainment. Identifying these characteristics would contribute to explaining ethnicity gaps in educational attainment in various European countries. For example, the gap between native students and students with Afro-Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi background in England, students with Turkish background in Germany, and students with Turkish and Moroccan background in the Netherlands.

In order to examine our hypothesis, we will: (1) evaluate the validity of cultural, social, and economic constructs across native students and students from underachieving ethnic groups, and (2) propose a set of items that capture specific social stratification mechanisms for underachieving ethnic groups. The methodology will involve expert interviews and secondary analysis. One research article will be submitted during the course of this project (Aug 2013 to Mar 2014). A grant proposal for a larger study will be submitted by February 2014.