Social Promotion in Primary School: Immediate and Cumulated Effects on Attainment
Priscila Souza and
Stephane Straub ()
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Priscila Souza: Climate Policy Initiative/Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
No 201607, Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance from School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews
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.
Keywords: education policy, primary school, grade repetition, grade retention; social promotion; automatic promotion; Brazil (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 I28 I25 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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