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Threat of Grade Retention, Remedial Education and Student Achievement: Evidence from Upper Secondary Schools in Italy

Author

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  • Battistin, Erich

    () (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Schizzerotto, Antonio

    () (IRVAPP)

Abstract

We use a reform that was recently implemented in Italy to investigate the effects on academic achievement of more stringent requirements for the admission to the next grade at upper secondary school. We study how such effects are mediated by changes in family and school inputs, and in the student commitment to learn all school subjects including those usually considered as marginal components of the curriculum. Geographical discontinuities in the implementation of the reform allow us to set out the comparison of similar students undergoing alternative progression rules, and to shed light on whether, and to what extent, the reform has worked as a tool to improve short-term achievement gains. We document differential effects across curricular tracks, picturing at best – depending on the data employed – a marginal improvement for students in academic schools. We instead find sharp negative effects of the reform in technical and vocational schools, where the students enrolled come from less privileged backgrounds. These findings are accompanied by a substantial increase in the number of activities out of the normal school hours in technical and vocational schools, but not in academic schools. Also, we find that the reform has left unchanged the various family inputs that we consider, and that parents did not provide extra economic support to students facing an increased threat of grade retention. However, in contrast with the documented effects on achievement, we find that schools reacted to the additional administrative burdens and costs imposed by the reform by admitting more students to the next grade. We thus conclude that the reform has had a negative effect on motivation and engagement of the most struggling students, thus exacerbating existing inequalities.

Suggested Citation

  • Battistin, Erich & Schizzerotto, Antonio, 2012. "Threat of Grade Retention, Remedial Education and Student Achievement: Evidence from Upper Secondary Schools in Italy," IZA Discussion Papers 7086, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7086
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lex Borghans & Bart H. H. Golsteyn & James J. Heckman & Huub Meijers, 2009. "Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Ambiguity Aversion," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 649-658, 04-05.
    2. Cappellari, Lorenzo & Lucifora, Claudio, 2009. "The "Bologna Process" and college enrollment decisions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 638-647, December.
    3. Betts, Julian R. & Grogger, Jeff, 2003. "The impact of grading standards on student achievement, educational attainment, and entry-level earnings," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 343-352, August.
    4. Juan Carlos Calcagno & Bridget Terry Long, 2008. "The Impact of Postsecondary Remediation Using a Regression Discontinuity Approach: Addressing Endogenous Sorting and Noncompliance," NBER Working Papers 14194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2002. "Identity and Schooling: Some Lessons for the Economics of Education," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1167-1201, December.
    6. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2002. "The Inheritance of Inequality," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 3-30, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:153:y:2017:i:c:p:9-31 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Eren, Ozkan & Depew, Briggs & Barnes, Stephen, 2017. "Test-based promotion policies, dropping out, and juvenile crime," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 9-31.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    policy evaluation; quasi experimental designs; remedial education;

    JEL classification:

    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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