Mathematics and science choice following introduction of compulsory study profiles into Dutch secondary education

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Since 1998, upper level secondary education pupils in the Netherlands are required to choose one of four study profiles with their own specific and fixed combinations of final examination subjects. With the aid of multilevel analyses, the extent to which this situation has led to changes in the determinants of mathematics and science choice (i.e. selection of a science profile) is examined for more than 3500 pupils. From a meritocratic perspective, the relative contributions of background characteristics versus personal aptitude are examined. The introduction of the study profiles appears to have produced sharper lines with respect to sex and socio-economic status. Optimal use is thus not made of existing science talent.

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