ISSN 1842-4562
Member of DOAJ

Evaluating Social Tracking in the Primary School: Evidence from the Lombardy Region (Italy)

Isabella ROMEO


social tracking phenomenon, class heterogeneity, Gini coefficient, segregation indices, multi-level modeling, Invalsi data


Recently, the Italian schools were deeply affected by the “social tracking” phenomenon, intended as the process of segregating students into socio-economic classes. Typically, this phenomenon occurs within the lower secondary school. In such a perspective, the study reported in the paper is innovative, since addressed to investigate the actual presence of the social tracking phenomenon as an event starting from the primary school. For this purpose, we considered data provided by Invalsi (Istituto Nazionale per la Valutazione del Sistema di Istruzione e Formazione) with regard to students of the fifth grade of primary schools in the Lombardy region (Italy). The study was carried out following two different approaches. First, a preliminary descriptive analysis of the segregation phenomenon was carried out by computing the Gini coefficient of the the socio-economic status average at class level. Second, due to the usual hierarchical structure of educational data, multilevel models were considered with the aim of partitioning the pupils’ socio-economic status variability within the student, class and school level. In this way, school and class social segregation indicators were obtained. Subsequently, a conditional multilevel model including school and class social segregation indicators as explanatory variables was built. Results underline that even though in general social tracking is not an actual threat for the Lombardy primary schools, a remarkable socio-economic heterogeneity among classes appears especially in some provinces of the Lombardy region.