Teachers taking perceptions of student attributes into consideration when formulating track recommendations?

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In some tracked educational systems, track recommendations are formulated by primary school teachers to determine the secondary school level that students will be allocated to. While teachers mostly base their track recommendations on students’ prior achievement, the extent to which teachers also consider perceived student attributes, such as students’ perceived work habits or parental involvement, and the extent to which these perceived student attributes are predictive for secondary school performance is unclear. Therefore, we first investigated the extent to which teachers consider their perceptions of student attributes in their track recommendations (RQ1). Differences between students from different backgrounds and differences between teachers were taken into account. Second, we examined the extent to which primary school teachers’ perceptions of student attributes are predictive for their secondary school performance (RQ2). Participants were 17,953 Grade 6 students from 1105 Dutch primary school teachers (RQ1) and 4150 Grade 9 students from 1289 Dutch secondary school classes (RQ2). Data used in this research were analysed using multilevel models. Findings indicated that teacher-perceived student attributes played only a minor role in track recommendations and secondary school performance. Yet the extent to which these attributes were considered by teachers differed based on students’ background and differed between teachers. For secondary school performance, teacher-perceived student attributes to have limited predictive value. The limited predictive value of teacher-perceived student attributes for students’ performance in secondary education suggests that teachers may need to be careful with taking perceived student attributes into account when formulating track recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1171
Number of pages45
JournalBritish Educational Research Journal
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • secondary school success
  • teacher perception of student attributes
  • track recommendation
  • transition from primary to secondary education


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