Valeria Ivaniushina1,2, Elena Williams3
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 16 Soyuza Pechatnikov Str., Saint Petersburg, 190008, Russian Federation
  • 2 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation
  • 3 University of Edinburgh, Murchison House, 10 Max Born Cres, Edinburgh EH9 3BF, United Kingdom

Tracking, School Mobility, and Educational Inequality

2019. No. 4. P. 47–70 [issue contents]

Valeria Ivaniushina – Candidate of Sciences in Biology, Leading Researcher, Laboratory of Sociology in Education and Science, National Research University Higher School of Economics (St. Petersburg).

Address: Bld. 2, 55 Sedova Str., 192171 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation. E-mail: ivaniushina@hse.ru.

Elena Williams – Graduate Student, University of Edinburgh.

Address: Murchison House, 10 Max Born Cres, Edinburgh EH9 3BF, United Kingdom. E-mail: elenpwilliams@gmail.com.


School tracking is defined as the placement of students into different school types, hierarchically structured by performance. In the majority of OECD countries, tracking takes place at the age of 15 or 16. In Russia, similarly, students are sorted into “academic” (high school) and “non-academic” (vocational training) tracks after Grade 9, at the age of 15. However, even before that split, Russian children are distributed among schools of differing types (“regular” schools, specialized schools, gymnasiums and lyceums), which some researchers refer to as “pre-tracking” [Kosyakova et al. 2016]. No empirical evidence as to how often students change school prior to formal tracking at age 15 has been available so far. Using the St. Petersburg administrative school database containing information on all school transitions made in the 2014/15 academic year, this article investigates school mobility among first to eleventh-graders. In particular, it compares the frequency of changing school across different grades as well as the overall incidence of school transitions. Regression models were constructed for academic/non-academic track choice after Grade 9, which link the share of students transitioning to vocational training institutions with school characteristics. In regard of changing school prior to formal tracking, findings reveal rather low school mobility. Indeed, in spite of having vast school change opportunities in a school system of a Russian megalopolis, 65% students attend the same school from Grade 1 through Grade 9, and 85% stick to one school between Grades 5 and 9. This is consistent with Yulia Kosyakova and her co-authors’ inferences on pre-tracking in the Russian secondary school. The implications for building individual educational trajectories and dealing with educational inequality are discussed.

Citation: Ivaniushina V., Williams E. (2019) Treking, shkol'naya mobil'nost' i obrazovatel'noe neravenstvo [Tracking, School Mobility, and Educational Inequality]. Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no4, pp. 47-70.