Equity and Grade Repetition – a Challenge for Education
Conference Proceedings - The Future of Education
Education systems are facing the enormous challenge of meeting high quality standards while ensuring that every student completes successfully nine (or more) years of schooling. The concern for equity underlies the education for all paradigm which is now universally accepted as a key policy to promote sustainable socioeconomic development. An important source of inequity in some education systems is the strategy of compelling students to repeat a grade when they do not meet predefined curriculum objectives. According to OECD, grade repetition is particularly frequent in France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg, very infrequent in Finland, Iceland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom, and a non-existing phenomenon in Japan, Korea and Norway . (In certain countries there are no limits to the application of this mechanism so it is conceivable – and, in some cases, frequent – to find 15 year old students in primary schools). Considering the vast impact of grade repetition in terms of education system cost, on the one hand, and student distress, discouragement, and dropout, on the other, and taking into account the recognized inefficacy of this strategy, it seems useful to study this phenomenon and to monitor its evolution along time. To objectively measure grade repetition inequity, a modified Gini index (MGI), using the method developed by Vinod Thomas, Yan Wang, and Xibo Fan , specifically aimed at assessing inequality in education is suggested. (The Gini index has been applied in the macroeconomics context – since the beginning of the 20th century – to assess inequality in country's population income distribution). The proposed application of the modified Gini index to measure grade repetition inequity is base on a methodology comprising, (i) the estimation of the PISA scores in mathematics (math plausible values) for each school grade (7th to 11th), to OECD countries, together with (ii) the computation of the percentage of students belonging to each one of the mentioned grades. After the calculation of the MGI for the chosen set of countries, with the time frame 2003-2012 – corresponding to two major math evaluations of the PISA programme – a preliminary analysis of the index evolution is presented. Albeit being a helpful analytical approach, the mere utilization of a scalar quantity (MI) to characterize such a complex phenomenon cannot explain the whole picture. A first candidate to explore is the relationship between the PISA ESCS (index of Economic, Social and Cultural Status) and the MGI. The results obtained from this analysis indicate that other dimensions should be considered within or outside the framework of grade repetition.
Equity, PISA, Grade Repetition