Balarín, María (2016). El contexto importa: reflexiones acerca de cómo los contextos y la composición escolar afectan el rendimiento y la experiencia educativa de los estudiantes. En GRADE. Investigación para el desarrollo en el Perú: once balances. Lima: GRADE.

The starting point for this assessment is the idea that in complex systems such as education, results are the product of dynamic interactions between actors, policies, and contexts—cultural, social, and institutional. Therefore, it is impossible to reduce results to a single, specific, replicable set of facts.

The assessment seeks to delve into this idea by exploring how social, cultural, or family contexts influence students’ educational achievement. To this end, the article analyzes recent critiques made by Sociology of Education, especially studies about the effects of school composition, regarding research about “school efficacy.” The literature about school composition shows how the school context and characteristics of the student body—socioeconomic, ethnic, et cetera—affect organizational processes, teaching practices, and other factors that the literature about school efficacy identifies as being associated with educational achievement.

Based on these ideas, the assessment outlines a reading of a series of studies performed in Peru about factors associated with educational achievement, as well as regarding the presence of a high degree of segregation in the Peruvian education system, which all suggest something similar: the importance of taking into account the effect of educational contexts and starting to consider more contextualized educational policies.