International Review of Economics

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 1–45 | Cite as

Between-classes sorting within schools and test scores: an empirical analysis of Italian junior secondary schools

Research Article


This paper suggests that some Italian junior secondary schools are likely to practise sorting between classes, and proposes an indicator to measure this practice. The impact of “informal” sorting on the students’ achievement is evaluated through an appropriate Instrumental Variables (IV) approach. The results suggest that this practice harms the students’ results in Reading, as measured through standardised test scores. Heterogeneity of this effect is then explored, considering different school types as well as different student characteristics. Overall, practising sorting within schools helps to replicate existing inequality through unequal educational opportunities.


Between-classes sorting Instrumental Variables (IV) Educational evaluation Equality 

JEL Classification

I24 I21 J24 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management, Economics and Industrial EngineeringPolitecnico di Milano School of ManagementMilanItaly
  2. 2.INVALSIRomeItaly

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