The Influence of Students' Social Background and Parental Involvement on Teachers’ School Track Choices: Reasons and Consequences

Barg, Katherin
June 2013
European Sociological Review;Jun2013, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p565
Academic Journal
In France, the transition from lower to upper secondary education is quite particular: families are involved in an institutionalized dialogue with the school. In the first step of this dialogue, the families pronounce a school track request; in the second step, the staff meeting formulates a school track proposition. As a third step, the families have the option to reject the staff's decision and if they do so, they are invited to discuss their request with the headmaster. Based on this obligatory talk, a decision is taken by the headmaster. This article investigates the influence of students' social background on the second step, i.e. the staff meeting's proposition. Based on rational action theory, first, a model is developed to explain the staff's decision-making and, second, this model is empirically tested with rich longitudinal data. In sum, the findings reveal that the staff's decisions are extremely driven by families' requests and, thus, reproduce the social class differentials that emerge through families' decision-making. Moreover, given the same request and school performance, the staff is even more likely to propose the general school track to families from higher social classes. Finally, the results show a notable impact of parental involvement on school staff's decision-making.


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