Smooth, staggered, or stopped?: educational transitions in the South African Youth Panel Survey
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Year-on-year, incremental progress is the gold standard of education. While policies are in place to address any possible anticipated interruption in overall learner journeys, smooth transitions through an individual's schooling career are a key aim for education programmes the world over. New analysis from a longitudinal study of South African youth suggests that just under half of all learners are following this smooth type of pathway through schooling, with the rest following three other distinct progression routes. This chapter provides the first in-depth look at what young people are doing, how they move through the education system, and how background and school-level characteristics influence those pathways. The study attempts to look beyond the predictable pattern of 'achievement begetting achievement', and demonstrates that educational expectations matter, and that the school attended need not. Together the results paint a complex picture of educational transitions where advantage operates but so too does the notion of 'beating the odds'.