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The Effect of Grade Retention on High School Completion

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  • Brian Jacob
  • Lars Lefgren

Abstract

Low-achieving students in many school districts are retained in a grade in order to allow them to gain the academic or social skills that teachers believe are necessary to succeed academically. This practice is highly controversial, with many researchers claiming that it leads to higher dropout rates although selection issues have complicated previous analyses. In this paper, we use a regression discontinuity design to examine the impact of grade retention on high school completion. We find that grade retention leads to a modest increase in the probability of dropping out for older students, but has no significant effect on younger students.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13514.

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Date of creation: Oct 2007
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Publication status: published as Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2009. "The Effect of Grade Retention on High School Completion," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 33-58, July.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13514

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  1. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jinyong Hahn & Petra Todd & Wilbert Van der Klaauw, 1999. "Evaluating the Effect of an Antidiscrimination Law Using a Regression-Discontinuity Design," NBER Working Papers 7131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  6. David S. Lee & David Card, 2006. "Regression Discontinuity Inference with Specification Error," NBER Technical Working Papers 0322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2002. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," NBER Working Papers 8918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2001. "The effect of grade retention on educational and labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 563-576, December.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Gianfranco DE SIMONE, 2012. "Render unto primary the things which are primary's. Inherited and fresh learning divides in Italian lower secondary education," Departmental Working Papers, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano 2012-14, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  2. Cortes, Kalena E. & Bricker, Jesse & Rohlfs, Chris, 2010. "The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 5031, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Pallas, Aaron M., 2010. "Meeting the basic educational needs of children and youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1199-1210, September.
  4. Elodie ALET & Liliane BONNAL & Pascal FAVARD, 2013. "Repetition : Medicine for a Short-run Remission," Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, ENSAE, issue 111-112, pages 9.
  5. Jane Cooley Fruehwirth & Salvador Navarro & Yuya Takahashi, 2011. "How the Timing of Grade Retention Affects Outcomes: Identification and Estimation of Time-Varying Treatment Effects," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity 20117, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  6. Ciccone, Antonio & Garcia-Fontes, Walter, 2014. "Gender Peer Effects in School, a Birth Cohort Approach," Working Papers 14-19, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
  7. Antonio Ciccone & Walter Garcia-Fontes, 2014. "Gender peer effects in school, a birth cohort approach," Economics Working Papers 1424, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  8. Marchionni, Mariana & Pinto, Florencia & Vazquez, Emmanuel, 2013. "Determinantes de la desigualdad en el desempeño educativo en la Argentina
    [Determinants of the inequality in PISA test scores in Argentina]
    ," MPRA Paper 56421, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Jesse Bricker & Kalena Cortes & Chris Rohlfs, 2010. "The role of specific subjects in education production functions: evidence from morning classes in Chicago public high schools," Finance and Economics Discussion Series, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) 2010-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, 2011. "Automatic Grade Promotion and Student Performance: Evidence from Brazil," Discussion Papers in Economics 11/52, Department of Economics, University of Leicester, revised Sep 2013.
  11. Rossana Patrón, 2011. "When more schooling is not worth the effort: another look at the dropout decisions of disadvantaged students in Uruguay," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0511, Department of Economics - dECON.
  12. Simone Balestra & Uschi Backes-Gellner, 2014. "Revisiting Class-Size Effects: Where They Come From and How Long They Last," Economics of Education Working Paper Series, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU) 0102, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).
  13. Marchionni, Mariana & Vazquez, Emmanuel & Pinto, Florencia, 2012. "Desigualdad educativa en la Argentina. Análisis en base a los datos PISA 2009
    [Education Inequality in Argentina. An analysis based on PISA 2009 data]
    ," MPRA Paper 56420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Antonio Chiccone & Walter Garcia-Fontes, 2014. "Gender Peer Effects in School, a Birth Cohort Approach," Working Papers 2014-07, FEDEA.
  15. Jacob A. Frenkel & Assaf Razin, 1986. "The Limited Viability of Dual Exchange-Rate Regimes," NBER Working Papers 1902, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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