Spain has the second highest school dropouts rate in the European Union after Romania. It is mostly boys and pupils from low-income families. They are less satisfied with school and put less effort into their homework.
These are some of the conclusions of a study by professors José Montalbán, from Stockholm University, and Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela, from the University of Barcelona, both researchers at the Esade Centre for Economic Policy (EsadeEcPol). They propose a range of policy measures for male learners and vulnerable students.
Reducing repeat students
According to the study, published by EsadeEcPol on Wednesday, both greater parental support and greater satisfaction at school could reduce the gender gap in repeated years by 30%. To a lesser extent, the same is true for maths and language results.
In 2021, 13.3% of young Spaniards aged 18-24 did not complete upper-secondary education and did not attend school at all. The figure is too high, but it is the lowest percentage since data has been kept. This mainly involves boys and young people from lower-income families. 16.7% of boys left school early in 2021, while the figure for girls was 9.7%. It was the first time that the female school dropout rate was below 10%.
Teachers use two predictors of school dropouts: students’ performance in language, English and mathematics and class doubling.
The findings show that students from higher socio-economic backgrounds perform much better in all subjects and at all stages of education. For instance, the difference between a child of low and high socioeconomic status in third grade for maths and language corresponds to almost two years of schooling.
Measures to reduce school dropouts rate
To reduce the worrying dropout rates of the most disadvantaged boys and students, the individualised suggest the following measures:
- increased parental support together with schools
- availability of better academic tutoring
- increasing school satisfaction
- an awareness of bias in teacher assessment.
According to the EsadEcPol analysis, differences in performance in favour of girls for language and English in primary school decrease in secondary school. But at all stages, boys take longer to complete school than girls.
For students with low socio-economic income, despite the significant improvement in boys’ school performance in all subjects over the years, the gender differences in the percentage of repeat students between primary and secondary education remain constant.
Also read: University students drop out rate