Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The Causal Effects of Grade Retention on Behavioral Outcomes

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 2:10 PM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Louis T. Mariano, RAND Corporation and Paco Martorell, University of California, Davis
This study examines the impact of grade retention on behavioral outcomes under a comprehensive assessment-based student promotion policy in New York City. To isolate the causal effect of grade retention, we implement a fuzzy regression discontinuity (RD) design that exploits that grade retention is largely determined by whether a student scores below a cutoff on a standardized test score. We use data on students subject to the policy over a nine year span to examine impacts on attendance and disciplinary event outcomes. We find the impact of retention on behavioral outcomes to be incidental to transitions into and out of middle school, with opposite-signed effects occurring in the years promoted students enter 6th grade and enter 9th grade.

In ongoing research, we are examining impacts of grade retention on measures of high school persistence and completion (e.g., credit accumulation, dropping out, and graduation). We will have results for these outcomes by the time of the conference in November.