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Targeting Non-Cognitive Skills to Improve Cognitive Outcomes: Evidence from a Remedial Education Intervention

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  • Holmlund, Helena

    () (IFAU)

  • Silva, Olmo

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

A growing body of research highlights the importance of non-cognitive skills as determinants of young people's cognitive outcomes at school. However, little evidence exists about the effects of policies that specifically target students' non-cognitive skills as a way to improve educational achievements. In this paper, we shed light on this issue by studying a remedial education programme aimed at English secondary school pupils at risk of school exclusion and with worsening educational trajectories. The main peculiarity of this intervention is that it solely targets students' non-cognitive skills – such as self-confidence, locus of control, self-esteem and motivation – with the aim of improving pupils' records of attendance and end-of-compulsory-education (age 16) cognitive outcomes. We evaluate the effect of the policy on test scores in standardized national exams at age-16 using both least squares and propensity-score matching methods. Additionally, we exploit repeated observations on pupils’ test scores to control for unobservables that might affect students’ outcomes and selection into the programme. We find little evidence that the programme significantly helped treated youths to improve their age-16 test outcomes. We also find little evidence of heterogeneous policy effects along a variety of dimensions.

Suggested Citation

  • Holmlund, Helena & Silva, Olmo, 2009. "Targeting Non-Cognitive Skills to Improve Cognitive Outcomes: Evidence from a Remedial Education Intervention," IZA Discussion Papers 4476, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4476
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Juan D. Barón & Deborah Cobb-Clark, 2010. "Are Young People's Educational Outcomes Linked to their Sense of Control?," Borradores de Economia 599, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    2. Erik Grönqvist & Björn Öckert & Jonas Vlachos, 2017. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 52(4), pages 887-918.
    3. Martin Schlotter, 2011. "Age at Preschool Entrance and Noncognitive Skills before School - An Instrumental Variable Approach," ifo Working Paper Series 112, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    4. Tim Kautz & James J. Heckman & Ron Diris & Bas ter Weel & Lex Borghans, 2014. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Improving Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills to Promote Lifetime Success," OECD Education Working Papers 110, OECD Publishing.
    5. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:97-111 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Pedro S. Martins, 2017. "(How) Do Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Adolescent School Achievement? Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 81, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research.
    7. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Longer-Term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 4754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. James J. Heckman & Tim Kautz, 2013. "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions That Improve Character and Cognition," NBER Working Papers 19656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Elke Lüdemann, 2011. "Schooling and the Formation of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Outcomes," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 39, June.
    10. Ignacio García-Pérez, J. & Hidalgo-Hidalgo, Marisa, 2017. "No student left behind? Evidence from the Programme for School Guidance in Spain," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 97-111.
    11. Martins, Pedro S., 2017. "Can Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Achievement? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from EPIS," GLO Discussion Paper Series 105, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    12. Carla Calero & Sandra V. Rozo, 2016. "The effects of youth training on risk behavior: the role of non-cognitive skills," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, December.
    13. Núria Rodríquez-Planas, 2010. "Longer-term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial in the United States," Working Papers 449, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    14. Guerra, Nancy & Modecki, Kathryn & Cunningham, Wendy, 2014. "Developing social-emotional skills for the labor market : the PRACTICE model," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7123, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cognitive and non-cognitive skills; policy evaluation; secondary schooling;

    JEL classification:

    • C20 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - General
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare

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