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Estimating the importance of families in modeling educational achievement using linked Swedish administrative data

French, Robert ORCID:, Sariaslan, Amir, Larsson, Henrik, Kneale, Dylan and Leckie, George 2023. Estimating the importance of families in modeling educational achievement using linked Swedish administrative data. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness 16 (1) , pp. 106-133. 10.1080/19345747.2022.2054480

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While the family is a critical determinant of educational achievement, methodological difficulties and the availability of data limit estimation of the family contribution in school effectiveness models. This study uses multilevel modeling to estimate the proportion of variation in student educational achievement between families, family-level intraclass correlation coefficients, and specific family structure effects (family size, birth order, birth spacing, sibling sex ratio). We use cross-classified random effects to account for school and neighborhood variation. We analyze Swedish administrative education records linked with birth records for four academic cohorts of students, with siblings identified from a wider pool of 21 cohorts. We show that almost half of the variation in student achievement described as “between students” in traditional school effectiveness studies would be better described as variation “between families,” suggesting effectiveness research might give greater consideration to family-based interventions in tandem with existing student- and school-based approaches to raising low achievement.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1934-5747
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 10 January 2022
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 21:37

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