Is Grade Repetition a Second Chance?

Elodie Alet
Toulouse School of Economics, France

This paper estimates the treatment effect of grade repetition on subsequent schooling performances in France. Being held back an additional year in the same grade is expected to help repeaters to acquire the necessary skills teachers believe these students lack. In this paper, I correct for potential selection issues associated with grade retention, using a multi-stage econometric model, which also takes into account the hierarchical structure of school systems. I find that early grade repetition (first or second grade) leads to a modest increase in test scores in the very short-run (in third grade) but this positive effect is only transitory as it disappears 3 or 4 years after the retention in grade (in sixth grade).

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