Don't Hold Back? The Effect of Grade Retention on Student Achievement

Ron Diris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This study analyzes the effect of age-based retention on school achievement at different stages of education. I estimate an instrumental variable model, using the predicted probability of retention given month of birth as an instrument, while simultaneously accounting for the effect of month of birth on maturity at the time of testing. The analysis further assesses heterogeneity in retention effects by achievement, by background characteristics, and by type of skill. Using international data from multiple waves of the PISA international assessment test, I find that grade retention in primary school harms student achievement across the distribution, while delayed school entry can produce positive results for those at the lower end. The identified local average treatment effect indicates that letting students retain in primary school because of a low relative age is harmful for their future school achievement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-341
Number of pages30
JournalEducation Finance and Policy
Volume12
Issue number3
Early online date2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • SKILL FORMATION
  • HIGH-SCHOOL
  • OUTCOMES
  • TECHNOLOGY
  • QUANTILES

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