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Early Academic Performance, Grade Repetition, and School Attainment in Senegal: A Panel Data Analysis

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  • Peter Glick
  • David E. Sahn

Abstract

Little is known in developing country environments about how a child's cognitive skills manifested in the first years of schooling are related to later educational success, because the panel data needed to analyze this question have been lacking. This study takes advantage of a unique data set from Senegal that combines test score data for children from the second grade with information on their subsequent school progression from a follow-up survey conducted seven years later. Measures of skills from early primary school, corrected for measurement error using multiple test observations per child, are strongly positively associated with later school progression. A plausible interpretation is that parents invest more in a child's education when the returns to doing so are higher. The results point to the need for remedial policies to target lagging students early on to reduce early dropout. Grade repetition policies target poorly performing students and are pervasive in Francophone Africa. Using variation across schools in test score thresholds for promotion to identify the effects of second-grade repetition, the analysis shows that repeating students are more likely to leave school before completing primary school than students with similar ability who are not held back, pointing to the need for alternative measures to improve the skills of lagging children. Copyright The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Glick & David E. Sahn, 2010. "Early Academic Performance, Grade Repetition, and School Attainment in Senegal: A Panel Data Analysis," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 24(1), pages 93-120, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:24:y:2010:i:1:p:93-120
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/wber/lhp023
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesca Marchetta & David E. Sahn, 2016. "The Role of Education and Family Background in Marriage, Childbearing, and Labor Market Participation in Senegal," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 369-403.
    2. Richard Akresh & Emilie Bagby & Damien de Walque & Harounan Kazianga, 2012. "Child Ability and Household Human Capital Investment Decisions in Burkina Faso," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(1), pages 157-186.
    3. Richard Akresh & Emilie Bagby & Damien de Walque & Harounan Kazianga, "undated". "Child Labor, Schooling, and Child Ability (Professional Paper)," Mathematica Policy Research Reports bac9373fb1b34111a24aa3147, Mathematica Policy Research.
    4. Sunny, Bindu S. & Elze, Markus & Chihana, Menard & Gondwe, Levie & Crampin, Amelia C. & Munkhondya, Masoyaona & Kondowe, Scotch & Glynn, Judith R., 2017. "Failing to progress or progressing to fail? Age-for-grade heterogeneity and grade repetition in primary schools in Karonga district, northern Malawi," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 68-80.
    5. Dendir, Seife, 2013. "Children's Endowment, Schooling, and Work in Ethiopia," WIDER Working Paper Series 086, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Foureaux Koppensteiner, Martin, 2014. "Automatic grade promotion and student performance: Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 277-290.
    7. Dendir, Seife, 2014. "Children's cognitive ability, schooling and work: Evidence from Ethiopia," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 22-36.
    8. Richard Akresh & Emilie Bagby & Damien de Walque & Harounan Kazianga, 2012. "Child Labor, Schooling, and Child Ability (Presentation)," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 3a260bbbddf24704a8a35fce7, Mathematica Policy Research.
    9. 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).
    10. Taniguchi, Kyoko, 2015. "Determinants of grade repetition in primary school in sub-Saharan Africa: An event history analysis for rural Malawi," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 98-111.
    11. repec:eee:injoed:v:56:y:2017:i:c:p:42-51 is not listed on IDEAS

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