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Does every child receive the same educational opportunities in the Netherlands? At the end of primary school, students are sorted into different tracks on the basis of their academic performance. Primary school teachers play an important role in allocating students to these track, as they are required to form a binding track recommendation In the Netherlands, children receive a track recommendation at the end of primary school. Research shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds often receive a lower track recommendation at the end of primary school than their 'privileged' classmates, even if they achieve the same results. Partly for this reason, Dutch primary schools are required to have an explicit track recommendation procedure as of this school year. However, according to the work of UvA researcher Sara Geven, this is not sufficient to secure equal educational opportunities, as she finds that even in the same school, teachers can hold different interpretations of their school procedure. Together with about 70 primary schools, she wants to develop scientifically informed track recommendation. Do you support this research?

Unequal opportunities in education

In the Dutch school system, students are recommended to an ability track at the end of primary school. This evaluation is very important for students’ educational careers, as it largely determines which diploma students will obtain. However, not every student receives the same track recommendation for the same level of performance. For instance, students from less privileged backgrounds receive a lower track recommendation for the same level of performance compared to their peers from more privileged backgrounds. This means that not every child receives the same educational opportunities. Track recommendations do not only vary from student to student but also between schools and among teachers. The same student could receive a different track recommendation at a different school or from a different teacher.

A fixed procedure as a solution?

As of this school year, all primary schools in the Netherlands are legally required to have an explicit track recommendation procedure to promote equal opportunities. According to Dr. Sara Geven, a standardized procedure could contribute to equal chances, but it is probably not enough to provide equal chances to all children. This is because teachers often interpret these procedures in their own way, which still leads to significant differences.

Connecting science with practice

Together with teachers and principals from approximately 70 primary schools in Amsterdam, Geven aims to develop a better and scientifically supported procedure. Together with the schools, data have been collected at these 70 schools. Together with educational professionals from these school, they will now determine the factors that contribute to a procedure that can truly combat inequality of opportunity. But her goal extends beyond the city of Amsterdam. Sara Geven wants to share findings and solutions with schools all over the Netherlands. Her aim is clear: every child deserve the chance to maximize their potential, regardless of their background.

Do you support Dr. Geven in her fight against inequality of opportunity? Her research demonstrates how crucial it is to recognize and utilize every talent. Together, we can contribute to a fairer education system and a just future. For every child. Join in and donate to this research!