IPP Policy Brief n°17 - January 2015

How much does grade repetition in French primary and secondary schools cost?

salle de classeIPP Policy Brief n°17

January 2015

Authors : Asma Benhenda and Julien Grenet

Contacts: asma.benhenda@ipp.eu, julien.grenet@ipp.eu


logo-pdf-min-2How much does grade repetition in French primary and secondary schools cost?

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Summary :

While it has been in constant decline in the past twenty years, grade repetition in French schools is still a widespread practice, involving 270,000 school students every year in primary and secondary years. At the age of 15, 28 per cent of students have repeated a school grade at least once in the course of their education (compared with an average of 12 per cent in the OECD). Grade repetition is regularly criticised as a means of preventing academic failure, charged with being not only ineffective but also very expensive.

This IPP Note contributes to the debate by proposing an assessment of the budgetary cost of grade repetition in French schools, through simulation of the effects of its suppression on education costs. Using an analysis of the trajectories of students born in 1992, the Note shows that on average, a repeated grade delays by one year the exit from school while at the same time changing the nature of the studies pursued. The annual cost of repeated grades (not counting diploma classes) is estimated at around 2 billion euros. However, if grade repetition were abolished starting from the beginning of the 2015 school year, the total sums saved would be realised only from 2027 onwards. The results indicate that the education resources that would be freed up by abolishing grade repetition are potentially significant but could only be gradually distributed towards alternative policies


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