Rosana de Freitas CastroClaudia Schuchart

Grade retention and school drop out in Brazil: How effective are policy programs?


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In Brazil, the goal of total inclusion of school-aged children has been nearly reached. Nonetheless, this quantitative success is not reflected in quality of outcome; repetition and drop out rates are significantly higher than the Latin American average. This problematic situation can be traced back to poverty and its implications. Another reason can be found in the lack of teacher and school quality. Since the mid-1990s, Brazil has developed a wide range of programs and strategies to target the problem of quality in education. We examined three such programs: The conditional cash transfer program ‘Bolsa Família’, the implementation of catch-up (remedial) classes (i.e. Programa Acelera Brasil), and the ‘School Development Plan’ (Plano de Desenvolvimento da Escola, PDE-Escola). We give an over-view of the programs and discuss the results of 8 studies which evaluate whether grade repetition, grade passing, drop out, and achievement were affected by the selected programs. Overall, the studies indicate that attendance behaviour is influenced more easily than achievement.