IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

The Effects of Test-based Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida

  • Guido Schwerdt
  • Martin R. West

A growing number of American states require that students who do not demonstrate basic reading proficiency at the end of third grade be retained and provided with remedial services. We exploit a discontinuity in the probability of third grade retention under Florida’s test-based promotion policy to study the causal effect of retention on student outcomes over time. Although conventional OLS estimates suggest negative effects of retention on achievement, regression discontinuity estimates indicate large positive effects on achievement and a reduced probability of retention in subsequent years. The achievement gains from test-based retention fade out over time, however, and are statistically insignificant after six years.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4203.

in new window

Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4203
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Poschingerstrasse 5, 81679 Munich

Phone: +49 (89) 9224-0
Fax: +49 (89) 985369
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
  2. Matsudaira, Jordan D., 2008. "Mandatory summer school and student achievement," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 829-850, February.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769, 01-2013.
  4. 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.
  5. David S. Lee & David Card, 2006. "Regression Discontinuity Inference with Specification Error," NBER Technical Working Papers 0322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R., 2013. "The impact of alternative grade configurations on student outcomes through middle and high school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 308-326.
  8. 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.
  9. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," NBER Working Papers 14726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Austin Nichols, 2007. "Causal inference with observational data," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(4), pages 507-541, December.
  11. John P. Papay & Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett, 2011. "How Performance Information Affects Human-Capital Investment Decisions: The Impact of Test-Score Labels on Educational Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 17120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Miguel Urquiola & Eric Verhoogen, 2007. "Class Size and Sorting in Market Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Douglas O. Staiger, 2012. "Knowledge, Tests, and Fadeout in Educational Interventions," NBER Working Papers 18038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2001. "The effect of grade retention on educational and labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 563-576, December.
  15. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2010. "Generalizations about Using Value-Added Measures of Teacher Quality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 267-71, May.
  16. Manacorda, Marco, 2010. "The Cost of Grade Retention," CEPR Discussion Papers 7889, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Philip Babcock & Kelly Bedard, 2011. "The Wages of Failure: New Evidence on School Retention and Long-Run Outcomes," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 6(3), pages 293-322, July.
  18. Kevin Lang, 2010. "Measurement Matters: Perspectives on Education Policy from an Economist and School Board Member," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 143, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  19. Jay P. Greene & Marcus A. Winters, 2007. "Revisiting Grade Retention: An Evaluation of Florida's Test-Based Promotion Policy," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 319-340, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4203. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.