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Social Promotion in Primary School: Immediate and Cumulated Effects on Attainment

Author

Listed:
  • Margaret Leighton

    () (University of St Andrews)

  • Priscila Souza

    (Climate Policy Initiative/Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro)

  • Stéphane Straub

    (Toulouse School of Economics)

Abstract

Does social promotion perpetuate shortfalls in student achievement, or can low-achieving students catch up with their peers when they are pushed ahead? Using data from Brazilian primary schools, this paper presents evidence of substantial catch up among socially promoted students. After documenting sorting across schools in response to the policy, in particular away from gated- promotion private schools, we show that social promotion cycles has no significant effect on municipality enrolment figures or on the percentage of students dropping out mid-year. Cohorts of students exposed to episodes of social pro- motion display higher rates of age-appropriate study than their peers who faced the threat of repetition each year: by age eleven, 5.6 fewer students out of 100 have fallen behind in their studies, while 5.1 fewer students out of 100 are two or more years delayed. These gains, which arise mechanically during the period of social promotion, are highly persistent over time – even through educational stages which are typically high-stakes. This evidence suggests that, absent the social promotion policy, retention rates in Brazilian primary schools are inefficiently high: many promoted students successfully pass gateway exams after being pushed ahead, and go on to complete junior primary school on time.

Suggested Citation

  • Margaret Leighton & Priscila Souza & Stéphane Straub, 2016. "Social Promotion in Primary School: Immediate and Cumulated Effects on Attainment," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201607, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews.
  • Handle: RePEc:san:wpecon:1607
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    File URL: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~wwwecon/repecfiles/4/1607.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dong, Yingying, 2010. "Kept back to get ahead? Kindergarten retention and academic performance," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 219-236, February.
    2. Glewwe, Paul & Kassouf, Ana Lucia, 2012. "The impact of the Bolsa Escola/Familia conditional cash transfer program on enrollment, dropout rates and grade promotion in Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 505-517.
    3. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R. & Winters, Marcus A., 2017. "The effects of test-based retention on student outcomes over time: Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 154-169.
    4. Foureaux Koppensteiner, Martin, 2014. "Automatic grade promotion and student performance: Evidence from Brazil," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 277-290.
    5. A. Colin Cameron & Douglas L. Miller, 2015. "A Practitioner’s Guide to Cluster-Robust Inference," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 317-372.
    6. André, Pierre, 2009. "Is grade repetition one of the causes of early school dropout? :Evidence from Senegalese primary schools," MPRA Paper 25665, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education policy; primary school; grade repetition; grade retention; social promotion; automatic promotion; Brazil;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development

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