Spatial variations of school‑level determinants of reading achievement in Italy

Autor(es): Sacco, Chiara; Falzetti, Patricia

Date: 2021

Pages: p. 1-19

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The study of the territorial difference in educational achievement is a widely debated topic, in particular in Italy for the presence of the well-known strong regional disparities. National and international large scale assessments confirmed that the main characteristic of the Italian school system is the geographical cleavage between North and South. Policymakers have pressing needs to find solutions to reduce geographical disparities. In this study, we investigate the spatial disparities of academic achievement from a new perspective, assuming that the relationship between academic achievement and predictors varies across Italy. Our aim is to examine the extent of the spatial disparities in the relationship between academic achievement and some school-level factors related to inequalities in educational outcomes, moving beyond the regional administrative confines, in order to identify new spatial patterns. We exploited the reading standardized tests administered by INVALSI in 2018–2019 focusing on the 8th-grade students. Crucial to our contribution is the use of the geographically weighted regression and the k-mean clustering, which allows studying the spatial variability of the impact of the school-level factors on academic achievement and to gather schools in new spatial clusters. The findings of this paper demonstrate the necessity to design a more specific education policy and support the identification of the main critical factors for different geographical areas.

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