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This research investigates the relationship between students' performance and the type of school attended during upper secondary education. The performance of three different types of schools (Liceo, Technical and Professional schools) in four Italian macroregions (North West, North East, Centre, South & Islands) is investigated. A benchmarking analysis of the variability in students' performance among regions (within macroregions) for cohorts of students attending Liceo is also conducted. The data was collected at the student level from the Italian Institute for the Evaluation of Education System (INVALSI), for the academic year 2017/18. Families with higher socio-economic status may self-select into Liceo, so a direct comparison with vocational schools could lead to biased conclusions regarding the impact of school type on student performance. To overcome this limitation, we used a Propensity Score Matching approach prior to the estimation of efficiency. A pseudo-Malmquist index, based on a metafrontier and satisfying the circular property, is developed. It enables comparing the location of the best-practice frontier for each type of school and the spread in the educational efficiency of the students attending each type of school. Thus, best performance of a given school type corresponds to the combined effect of these two aspects. This study is an interesting starting point to challenge the stereotypes that persist in Italy, especially concerning general and vocational studies and geographic differences in educational achievements.
Ana S. Camanho is Associate Professor of the School of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Management (FEUP) and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies from Warwick Business School, UK. Ana's main research area is Operational Research, with emphasis on the development of efficiency and productivity change models using the Data Envelopment Analysis Technique. She is pro-director of FEUP, director of the Integrated Master in Engineering and Industrial Management of FEUP and member of the Pedagogical Council of FEUP. Ana is also the coordinator of the Data Science area of the MIT-Portugal Program. She was vice president of the Portuguese Association of Operational Research (2011-2012) and vice director of the Doctoral Program in Engineering and Industrial Management at FEUP. Ana has been involved in research projects in the following areas: banking, fisheries, education, health, transport, retail, construction industry, manufacturing, mining industry, Corporate Social Responsibility, quality of life and sustainable development of countries and cities, regulation of electricity distribution companies and benchmarking of wastewater utilities.