On the Test Score Gap between Roma and Non‐Roma Students in Hungary and Its Potential Causes
28 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 2016
Using unique data from Hungary, the gap in reading and mathematics test scores between Roma and non‐Roma 8th grade students is assessed and a substantial gap between them revealed. Standardized test scores as well as the fraction of students with competences considered inadequate are examined. Regardless of measurement and subject area, the bulk of the gap is explained by social differences in income, wealth and parental education. Using reduced‐form regressions, two major mediating mechanisms are identified: first, on average the home environment of Roma children is less favourable for cognitive development; second, the educational environment of the average Roma student is different from the average non‐Roma student. Comparing students with similar home environments from the same school and class, the ethnic gap in test scores is found to be insignificant. Ethnic differences in the home environment are explained by social disparity, and ethnicity seems to play no additional role in that regard. The unequal distribution of Roma students in schools and classes is found to be explained predominantly by social difference, too, with a significant residual portion, indicating the effect of ethnic segregation.
Keywords: Test score gap, Roma, Hungary, education, parenting
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