The effect of grade retention on secondary school performance: Evidence from a natural experiment

Maria Ferreira Sequeda, Bart Golsteyn, Sergio Parra Cely

Research output: Working paper / PreprintWorking paper

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We study the effects of grade retention on secondary school performance by considering a change in Colombia’s educative legislation. In 2010, the rule that forced schools to retain up to a 5% of students was abolished. Exploiting variation in schools’ retention rates in a difference-in-differences framework, we find that retained (marginally non-retained) students improve (decline) their performance on language but not on math test scores. We suggest the school’s position in the retention distribution, and the proportion of inexperienced teachers in the classroom, can be the mechanisms by which the marginally decreasing returns of grade retention are determined.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Number of pages47
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Publication series

SeriesROA Research Memoranda

JEL classifications

  • i20 - Education and Research Institutions: General
  • i24 - Education and Inequality
  • j24 - "Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity"


  • retention
  • Colombia
  • difference-in-differences

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