Spain triples the European school repetition rate: the keys to an entrenched phenomenon

04/22/2023 at 08:57


Spain occupies, unfortunately and for years, the first place on the list students and students who repeat course in that. The repetition rate is the highest in the EU: it stands at 7.6% compared to the 2.2% European average. The Ministry of Education has spent years wanting to reduce the ratio. What is this gap due to? Why can’t you lower yourself? Is the number of repeaters homogeneous in public and private schools? What does the educational law say about passing the course with failed subjects? We answer these questions (and some more).

Why is it repeated so much more in Spain than in Europe?

Why is it repeated more in Spain? “Half of the students who repeat in Spain would not do so if they lived in Greece, France, Italy or Portugal. They do not do it because of their own incompetence but because of a decision of the system,” explains EsadeEcPol researcher Lucas Gortazar, who attributes the high levels of repetition in our country (something that does not come from now but is historical) to factors such as “the culture of suspense and 4”: not approving students who are at that threshold of competence. Hence, the experts in educational policy applauded the new educational law (Lomloe), which leaves repetition as an “exceptional & rdquor ;” measure.

Another factor to take into account is public spending on education. According to data from the ministry, investment reached 55,265.8 million euros in 2020, 4.1% more than in 2019. These figures represent 4.93% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In France, for example, it is 5.41%.

On the other hand, the very high state rates are registered in a country that does not stand out for school success. The school dropout rate is 13.9 (compared to 9.7% in Europe) and one in four students ends ESO with serious difficulties in understanding minimally complex texts.

Public versus private schools

During the last academic year (2021-22), the 7.6% of ESO students repeated a year in Spain, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Education. Now, the percentage of repeaters is radically different if we talk about public school or concerted and private. In publicly owned centers, the percentage of repeaters rises to 9.2% vs. 4.3% of subsidized and private schools. This marked difference also occurs in the rest of the educational stages.

In primary, the total repetition rate of students is 2.1%. In public schools it is 2.5% compared to 1.2% in private and subsidized schools. The ministry’s statistics also offer data for baccalaureate, a non-compulsory stage in which the global rate of repeaters shoots up to almost 7% (6.9%). Once again, inequality is verified depending on the ownership of the center: 8.5% in public and 3.2% in private.

Does the repetition go by neighborhoods?

The data confirms what educational policy experts have been warning for some time. Repeating is a socially unfair measure because stigmatizes and because it punishes students with fewer resources: faced with two students with similar difficulties and motivation, the one who is more likely to repeat (up to three times more) is the one with a lower socioeconomic and cultural level (less support at home, less motivation, fewer learning opportunities and school reinforcement …). In addition, it is a very expensive measure: the annual cost of repetition rises to 1,441 million euros.

“There is a clear relationship between social level and repetition. Private and subsidized centers have fewer potentially repeating students because they have fewer students from a low socioeconomic level. Perhaps other factors are also involved, but it would have to be carefully analyzed. For example, the culture of evaluation in some centers and in others, as well as client retention practices in private schools. But, I insist, the main reason that explains the difference in repeaters between public and private is the social and economic sphere of the students,” he explains. Xavier Bonalprofessor of Sociology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​for whom repeating a course is a measure “ineffective, expensive, unequal and unfair & rdquor;.

More repeaters than the previous year

The rate of repetition in ESO (7.2%) has increased considerably in one year. The previous academic year (2020-21, with the cabbages open but with a school routine still touched by the pandemic) was 4.2%. It is striking that in the 2019-20 financial year (when the centers closed their physical doors due to the coronavirus), repetition shot up to 8.5% despite the fact that Education urged the cloisters to make collegiate decisions for a student to pass the course if they had acquired “sufficient skills & rdquor; Even if I had failed subjects. The course prior to the pandemic (2018-19), the repetition rate was 8.7% and the previous one (2017-18), 9.5%. The percentage of repeaters in baccalaureate (6.9%) has also increased in one year. The previous academic year (2020-21) was considerably lower: 3.4%.

The most repeaters in the EU

Recent data from the Ministry does not include comparison with other countries. This data is indeed in the 2017-18 statistics. On that occasion, Spain registered a rate of repeaters in ESO of 9.5%, the highest -by far- in the EU. They follow us Belgium, with 5.9% and Romania, with 3.7%What does the law say?

The Ministry of Education, already in the time of the ex-minister Isabel Celaá, proposed to reduce the rate of repeaters in secondary. The new educational law (Lomloe) urges that repetition be something “exceptional & rdquor ;. For this reason, it establishes “objective, global, continuous and formative” evaluations. The teaching team, coordinated by the tutor, will carry out the final evaluation of the students collegiately in a single session that will take place at the end of the school year. If the student passes the course and has some deficiency, the center must reinforce that subject. If, exceptionally, the faculty believes that the best thing for that student is to repeat the year, a specific reinforcement plan will be organized so that they acquire the corresponding skills. Actually, this has always been done in schools, but the law enshrines it in writing. In the case of high school, the Lomloe allows -as happened with the previous regulations- to pass the course with two failed subjects. The degree may be obtained with a failing as long as the evaluation board considers that the student has acquired the necessary skills.