Country-level Heterogeneity in School-Level Contextual Effect of SES: International Comparison using Multilevel Modeling

2018-08-02T15:05:19Z (GMT) by Mason, James M


One persistent and well-documented failure to achieve educational equity is that students of lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have lower educational outcomes (e.g. measured ability, attainment, and persistence) than students of higher SES. This is manifest both through an individual effect of the student’s SES (also called a compositional effect), and also through the effect of the mean SES of other students at the same school, which is called a contextual effect.

Using data from the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), I investigated country-level heterogeneity in the contextual effect of SES on mathematics scores. Using multilevel modeling, I found a large variation in contextual effect across the 64 countries in PISA: the average contextual effect was about 63 points, and standard deviation across countries of this contextual effect was about 32 points, on a test score with a standard deviation of about 100.