Object structure


Changes in educational inequalities in Poland. A polemic against the aricle of Zbigniew Sawiński „Gimnazja wobec nierówności społecznych” („Polish lower secondary schools in the face of social inequalities”)


Sitek, Michał

Subject and Keywords:

research on student achievement ; educational inequalities ; school selection ; social origin ; educational pathways


Educational Research Institute



Resource Type:






Bibliographic citation:

Edukacja. 2016, 2 (137)




21st century


Creative Commons BY 4.0


In his text published in EDUKACJA („Polish lower secondary schools in the face of social inequalities” Edukacja, 135(4), 2015), Zbigniew Sawiński argues that based on the analyses of data from the 2000 to 2012 editions of the OECD PISA study, lower secondary school reform has not reduced educational inequalities in Polish education. The importance of students’ social origin remained at the same level as before the reform, the impact of social origin on the choice of type of secondary school remained the same, and an increasing differentiation of lower secondary schools did not lead to an increase in educational inequalities. The article presents methodological arguments and the results of a re-analysis of PISA data, indicating changes in wider educational inequalities. Between 2000 and 2012: (a) the strength of association in the performance of 15-year-olds with the socio-economic status of students’ families did not change, but (b) the variation of results decreased, which was mainly due to the improved performance of the lowest performing students; (c) the differences between students of high and low socio-economic status decreased; (d) the influence of social origin on the choice of the type of upper secondary school decreased. The effects of socio-economic status on upper secondary school choice is largely direct: it is not mediated by the educational achievements of students. The polemic also highlights the complexity of the so-called lower secondary school reform, which was not only limited to the introduction of such schools. The role of other factors is indicated, which makes it difficult to analyse the results of lower secondary school reform in terms of cause and effect – particularly the role of unobserved variables in the PISA study on changes in the learning environment of subsequent cohorts of study participants.