Grade repetition -

test the ability to apply the “contents” of education to real life, and not the ability to. “master” the contents. As described in Section 2, the student population in ...
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OECD Journal: Economic Studies

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Grade repetition

A comparative study of academic and non-academic consequences Miyako Ikeda, Emma García

Please cite this article as: Ikeda, Miyako and Emma García (2014), “Grade repetition: A comparative study of academic and non-academic consequences”, OECD Journal: Economic Studies, Vol. 2013/1.

This work is published on the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the Organisation or of the governments of its member countries. This document and any map included herein are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

OECD Journal: Economic Studies Volume 2013 © OECD 2014

Grade repetition: A comparative study of academic and non-academic consequences by Miyako Ikeda and Emma García*

This article explores country-by-country differences in academic performance and attitudes towards school between students who repeated a grade in primary school, in secondary school or never repeated a grade. The analyses use PISA 2009 for 30 countries in which a relatively high proportion of students repeated a grade before the age of 15. The comparisons across countries and the examination of models of both academic and non-academic performance contribute to shed some light on the consequences of repeating a grade for students. The estimated associations suggest that in most countries examined, at the age of 15, students who repeated a grade in secondary school tend to perform better academically than do students who repeated a grade in primary school, but worse than non-repeaters. In terms of the measure of behavioural performance chosen for this analysis, attitudes towards school, in the majority of countries, non-repeaters tend to report more positive attitudes towards schools than primary and secondary-school repeaters, but the comparison between repeaters in primary and secondary schools shows less consistent patterns across countries. These differences are observed after accounting for background characteristics of the students and exploring some differential relationships between grade repetition and education outcomes according to student characteristics. The achievement and behavioural gaps among groups of repeaters may reflect differences in the development of academic and behavioural skills over the school years, as well as differences in the way these groups of students are treated across different educational systems. JEL classification: I21, J13, H52 Keywords: Grade repetition, academic performance, attitudes towards school, PISA

* The authors are from the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills ([email protected]) and the Teachers College of Columbia University ([email protected]), respectively. They would like to thank Marion Goussé and Emily Farchy for their valuable comments and suggestions. The views expressed in this article are the authors’ and are not necessarily shared by the OECD or its member countries. The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.




he empirical literature assessing the consequences of grade repetition provides inconclusive evidence of the academic and socio-emotional effects of retention on students. In fact, the existing empirical literature is divided into two camps (as summarised