Research

The project will be divided into three subsequent phases: 1) Description and identification of visible and hidden forms of tracking 2) Educational sorting and long-term inequality outcomes 3) Mechanisms of educational sorting related to the formation of inequality

1) Description and identification of visible and hidden forms of tracking
Currently, the researchers of the LIFETRACK project are involved with the identification of relevant forms of educational sorting in their countries. While some educational systems comprise obvious forms of educational sorting, such as formal between-school tracking with a differentiation into distinct school types, others pursue more subtle forms of differentiation, such as within-school differentiation of ability groups or the divide between public and private or elite and mass education. In its first phase, the LIFETRACK project makes a systematic approach to a comprehensive description and identification of these various forms of sorting and their relevance with respect to the formation of social inequality in the participating countries.

2) Educational sorting and long-term inequality outcomes
The second phase of the project will be devoted to analyses of the long-term consequences of educational tracking and sorting. While previous research on educational tracking was mainly concerned with short-term consequences of educational tracking for inequality in educational participation or the dispersion of competences, LIFETRACK will explicitly take into consideration the consequences of sorting for social inequality in final educational attainment and labour market outcomes. Building on the identification of the relevant forms of sorting in each country, we will employ national individual-level longitudinal datasets to assess the role of differentiation in secondary education in the formation of these long-term inequality outcomes.

3) Mechanisms of educational sorting related to the formation of inequality
In its final phase, the LIFETRACK project will be devoted to the social mechanisms that are behind the association between the various forms of tracking and the formation of social inequality. We will draw on the national life-course datasets to disentangle how different modes of educational sorting shape the development of competences, educational aspirations or create institutional and personal path-dependencies in a socially selective way.