Relationship between equity and excellence in education: multilevel analysis of international student assessment data with a focus on Turkey

Özdemir, Caner
This dissertation aims at finding the relationship between equity and excellence in education and how these two dimensions interplay in Turkey. It is found that inequalities in education are not functional as suggested by functionalist theories. On the other hand, findings of this dissertation show that more equity brings more success. Results also show that Turkish education system is neither equitable nor excellent. Moreover, it is found that current education structure in Turkey worsens existing social inequalities. One of the main research questions of this thesis is: “What is the relationship between equity and excellence in education?” It is found that there is a positive relationship between equity and excellence. Unlike earlier claims about a trade-off between equity and excellence, there are serious hints about a relationship in which these two dimensions of education are enabling each other. It is also aimed at finding how equity and excellence interact in Turkey by asking the research question: “Which social and educational characteristics are associated with educational excellence in Turkey?” It is found that there are huge performance differences between girls and boys, students from different family backgrounds and students from different regions. The biggest difference is between school types. It is shown that top performing schools not only receive better performing students from affluent families but also receive more and better resources. Another striking finding of this dissertation is that female students are extra disadvantaged in selective types of schools. Despite being admitted to the most successful types of high schools with a higher probability than boys, girls do not benefit from the educational advantages of these schools as much as boys. Therefore, it is fair to say that education system in Turkey is reproducing existing social inequalities as suggested by conflict theories of sociology of education.