Panel: Consequences of Grade Retention and Academic Probation

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Dona Ana (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Christina LiCalsi-Labelle, Northwestern University
Panel Chairs:  Cassandra Hart, University of California, Davis
Discussants:  Erin Dunlop Velez, American Institutes for Research

The Effect of Florida's Third Grade Retention Policy on High School Course-Taking and Graduation
Guido Schwerdt, LFO Institute for Economic Research, Marcus Winters, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs and Martin West, Harvard University

Recent years have seen a dramatic expansion in the number of states and school districts requiring students to demonstrate basic proficiency on standardized tests in certain grades and subjects in order to be default promoted to the next grade level. Such test-based promotion policies aim to end the common practice of social promotion, or advancing students to the next grade level even if they are academically unprepared. Test-based promotion policies have been in effect for several years in Florida, New York City, and Chicago; they were recently adopted by Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, and Indiana; and other states including Ohio, North Carolina, Iowa, New Mexico, and Tennessee are considering similar legislation. Each of these policies focuses at least in part on retaining students who have not demonstrated basic reading proficiency in third grade, often considered a key milestone in students’ academic development. This panel includes three studies which examine various consequences of Florida’s statewide reading test-score based third grade retention policy. Because the Florida policy relies on a strict score cutoff for determining retention, all three studies employ fuzzy regression-discontinuity designs to determine causal impacts of Florida’s policy. The first study uses linked educational records and birth records to examine the impact of maternal education on the implementation and effectiveness of the Florida retention policy. The second study investigates the impact of the policy on later student misbehavior. The third study looks at the policy’s impact on students’ course choices in high school and their probability of on-time graduation.
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