This paper discusses reforms of Italian secondary schools' curriculum and funding in light of theoretical considerations, of the experience of other countries, and of empirical evidence. We briefly review socio-economic views on the schooling system's role in shaping the social structure and productive potential of new generations. The current structure of the Italian secondary school system lets the student population sort itself, on the basis of individuals' financial and culturalbackground, along both vocational vs. comprehensive and public vs. private dimensions. We characterise the outcome of this sorting, and its relationship to further educational experience, with a statistical analysis of a sample of University students. Not surprisingly, we find that in Italy Catholic private schools play a different role from that of their American counterparts, which have been found to improve the performance of relatively poor students. Italian confessional and other private schools appear to cater to the needs of relatively less talented students fromrelatively rich family backgrounds.
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