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Working paper

Contextualizing Academic Performance in Russian Schools: School Characteristics, the Composition of Student Body and Local Deprivation

Yastrebov G., Bessudnov A., Pinskaya М., Kosaretsky S.
This study focuses on how social contexts promote disparities in academic performance between Russian high schools. In particular, we investigate how a school’s average Unified State Examination (USE) scores in Russian and mathematics relate to the social composition of its student body, its material and human resources, and local deprivation. We develop a two-level hierarchical regression model to analyze data from school profiles collected in two Russian regions (Yaroslavskaya Oblast’ and Moskovskaya Oblast’) during the 2011-12 academic year. Both social characteristics of the student body and the school’s material and human resources were associated with academic performance. However, after controlling for the characteristics of pupils and schools, our study did not discover any significant independent effects of the local context. In conclusion, we discuss the implications of these findings with regard to developing contextualized measures of academic performance in Russia, the limitations of current research and suggest several possibilities for its empirical development.