Presenter: Moris Triventi (University of Trento).

Co-author: Fabrizio Bernardi (European University Institute).

When: Monday 27th February, 13.30-15.00.

Where: Seminar Room 2, Badia Fiesolana.

Abstract: Many educational systems provide a single annual cut-off date for school entry, meaning that all children born in a given year enter at school at the same time. However, in the Italian education system the anticipation of primary school enrolment is allowed to children who turn six years of age by 30 April of the school year. While many Italian parents’ attach positive value to anticipation of school entry (ASE), there is also growing concern in the literature that it could harm pupils’ development and subsequent achievement.

In our work, we aim to investigate for the first time the incidence, determinants and consequences of anticipation of school entry in Italy. We use data collected by the National Institute for the Evaluation of the Italian School System (INVALSI-SNV) on a whole cohort of students surveyed in the 5th grade (2012-13, last year of primary education) and 8th grade (2015-16, last year of lower secondary education), with more than one million cases. First, using binomial logistic regression models we investigate the students’ socio-demographic characteristics associated to the probability of anticipating school entry in elementary school. Second, using an approach resembling a fuzzy-RD design we estimate the effect of having anticipated school entry on a variety of outcomes measuring academic performance (standardized test scores and teachers marks, in language and mathematics) and social integration among peers in school. Finally, we assess whether the potential negative effect of ASE varies across social backgrounds. Implications for policies on school entry and their consequences for inequalities in academic achievement are discussed.

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