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Threat of Grade Retention, Remedial Education and Student Achievement: Evidence from Upper Secondary Schools in Italy

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Author Info

  • Battistin, Erich

    ()
    (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Schizzerotto, Antonio

    ()
    (IRVAPP)

Abstract

We use a reform that was recently implemented in Italy to investigate the effects on academic achievement of more stringent requirements for the admission to the next grade at upper secondary school. We study how such effects are mediated by changes in family and school inputs, and in the student commitment to learn all school subjects including those usually considered as marginal components of the curriculum. Geographical discontinuities in the implementation of the reform allow us to set out the comparison of similar students undergoing alternative progression rules, and to shed light on whether, and to what extent, the reform has worked as a tool to improve short-term achievement gains. We document differential effects across curricular tracks, picturing at best – depending on the data employed – a marginal improvement for students in academic schools. We instead find sharp negative effects of the reform in technical and vocational schools, where the students enrolled come from less privileged backgrounds. These findings are accompanied by a substantial increase in the number of activities out of the normal school hours in technical and vocational schools, but not in academic schools. Also, we find that the reform has left unchanged the various family inputs that we consider, and that parents did not provide extra economic support to students facing an increased threat of grade retention. However, in contrast with the documented effects on achievement, we find that schools reacted to the additional administrative burdens and costs imposed by the reform by admitting more students to the next grade. We thus conclude that the reform has had a negative effect on motivation and engagement of the most struggling students, thus exacerbating existing inequalities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7086.

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Length: 52 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7086

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Related research

Keywords: policy evaluation; quasi experimental designs; remedial education;

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References

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  1. Betts, Julian R. & Grogger, Jeff, 2003. "The impact of grading standards on student achievement, educational attainment, and entry-level earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 343-352, August.
  2. Lex Borghans & Bart H.H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," NBER Working Papers 14713, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Juan Carlos Calcagno & Bridget Terry Long, 2008. "The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance," NBER Working Papers 14194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Lorenzo Cappellari & Claudio Lucifora, 2008. "The "Bologna Process" and College Enrolment Decisions," DISCE - Quaderni dell'Istituto di Economia dell'Impresa e del Lavoro ieil0051, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Dipartimenti e Istituti di Scienze Economiche (DISCE).
  5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
  6. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
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