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Kept back to get ahead? Kindergarten retention and academic performance

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  • Dong, Yingying

Abstract

While most existing research concludes that grade retention generates no benefits for the retainees' academic performance, holding low-achieving children back has been a popular practice for decades. Drawing on a recently collected nationally representative dataset in the US, this paper estimates the causal effect of repeating kindergarten on the retained children's academic performance. Since we observe children being held back only when they enroll in schools that permit kindergarten retention, this paper jointly models the choice of enrolling in a school that allows kindergarten retention, the decision of repeating kindergarten, and children's academic performance in higher grades. A control function approach is developed to estimate the resulting double-hurdle treatment model, which accounts for unobserved heterogeneity in the retention effect. A nearest-neighbor matching estimator is also implemented. Holding children back in kindergarten is found to have positive but diminishing effects on their academic performance up to third grade.

Suggested Citation

  • Dong, Yingying, 2010. "Kept back to get ahead? Kindergarten retention and academic performance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 219-236, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:54:y:2010:i:2:p:219-236
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Álvaro Choi & María Gil & Mauro Mediavilla & Javier Valbuena, 2016. "Double toil and trouble: grade retention and academic performance," Working Papers 2016/7, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    2. Hill, Andrew J., 2014. "The costs of failure: Negative externalities in high school course repetition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 91-105.
    3. Foureaux Koppensteiner, Martin, 2014. "Automatic grade promotion and student performance: Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 277-290.
    4. Agasisti, Tommaso & Cordero, Jose M., 2017. "The determinants of repetition rates in Europe: Early skills or subsequent parents’ help?," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 129-146.
    5. Robert J. Gary‐Bobo & Marion Goussé & Jean‐Marc Robin, 2016. "Grade retention and unobserved heterogeneity," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 7(3), pages 781-820, November.
    6. Leighton, Margaret & Souza, Priscila & Straub, Stéphane, 2016. "Social Promotion in Primary School: Immediate and Cumulated Effects on Attainment," TSE Working Papers 16-649, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).

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