Gary Marks

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Effectively Maintained Inequality (EMI) is proposed as an explanation for contemporary socioeconomic inequalities in education. Socioeconomic inequalities are ‘maintained’ by students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds taking less advantageous curricula influencing their post-school destinations. The purpose of this study is to evaluate EMI by addressing several hypotheses derived from the EMI thesis using Australian longitudinal data. It analyses within-school transitions and the transition from school to post-school destinations (elite university, other university, vocational and no post-school study or training). The study also models curricular placement (subject choice). It finds that the transitions within- and post-school are more powerfully influenced by students’ academic ability than by socioeconomic background. Furthermore, subject choice has strong impacts on the transitions. Similarly, Year 12 subject choice is only weakly predicted by socioeconomic background, and more strongly influenced by ability and occupational interests. In turn, occupational interests are largely independent of socioeconomic background. The EMI thesis is not supported.

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Journal Article

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