NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Grade Retention on High School Completion

Brian Jacob, Lars Lefgren

NBER Working Paper No. 13514
Issued in October 2007
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

Low-achieving students in many school districts are retained in a grade in order to allow them to gain the academic or social skills that teachers believe are necessary to succeed academically. This practice is highly controversial, with many researchers claiming that it leads to higher dropout rates although selection issues have complicated previous analyses. In this paper, we use a regression discontinuity design to examine the impact of grade retention on high school completion. We find that grade retention leads to a modest increase in the probability of dropping out for older students, but has no significant effect on younger students.

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Published: Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2009. "The Effect of Grade Retention on High School Completion," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 33-58, July.

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