The role of retention as an educational tool to overcome under-achievement is a hotly debated issue, especially given that the results in the literature are not consensual. The Portuguese case is particularly well suited to study this issue: all students must take standardized national exams at specific grades. Moreover, the available dataset tracks the performance of students over time. Therefore, it was possible to measure the impact of students’ retention on their subsequent academic performance since it was viable to control for each student’s initial level of ability at the moment of retention. A propensity score matching approach was used, in which retained and promoted 4th-grade students are matched according to their socioeconomic characteristics and the scores obtained in national exams. The results suggested that in some situations, retentions may have, on average, a positive impact on future achievement. However, in cases where statistically significant impacts are found, the estimated magnitudes are relatively small.
Coordinators: Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes
Team: Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes
Published Paper: Nunes, L. C., Balcão Reis, A., and Seabra, C. 2018. “Is retention beneficial to low-achieving students? Evidence from Portugal”. Applied Economics, 1-12. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00036846.2018.1444261)
Paper Presented in: Third Lisbon Research Workshop on Economics, Statistics and Econometrics of Education, ISEG, Lisbon, Portugal, 23-24 January 2015; 22nd Congress of Portuguese Statistical Society, 7-10 October, 2015, Olhão, Portugal; 10th Annual Meeting of the Portuguese Economic Journal, Coimbra, Portugal, 1-3 July, 2016; 36th International Symposium on Forecasting, ISF2016, Santander, Spain, 19-22 June 2016; Conference “Mês da Educação 2016”, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, Lisbon, Portugal, 26 October 2016; and Fórum Estatístico, DGEEC, 8 March 2017.
Sponsor: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos https://www.ffms.pt/en