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Are policies designed to prevent early school leaving working in Spain?

Analysis of the impact of the Learning and Performance Improvement Programme (PMAR)

Javier Mato Díaz, Ángel Alonso Domínguez, Rosario González Arias and Israel Escudero Castillo, Universidad de Oviedo
Project selected in the Call to support social research projects: vocational training, early school leaving and job insecurity

The Learning and Performance Improvement Programme (PMAR) was created as a specific measure for the prevention of early school leaving in Spain as part of the 2013 education reform. The complete implementation of this reform, through the Organic Law on the Improvement of Quality in Education (LOMCE), was carried out in the 2016-2017 academic year. This research study provides an analysis of the success of this programme, measured through the achievement of the Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) certificate, and permanence in the education system at the end of two years. Data are used from the Principality of Asturias and the results show that students who accessed the PMAR obtained notable positive effects, in comparison with students who did not participate in the programme, who were as similar as possible with regard to educational characteristics and socioeconomic environment.
Key points
  • 1
       Early school leaving is a social problem because it helps to uphold social inequality, makes higher education’s role as the main social elevator more difficult, and increases the risk of precarity associated with an uncertain employment future.
  • 2
       Early school leaving in Spain has tended to decline in recent decades, but in 2019 it was still at the average level of the EU-15 corresponding to the year 2007 (16.4%). The years of intense economic growth prior to the crisis of 2008 slowed this tendency down. The average level of the EU-15 in 2019 was 10.5%.
  • 3
       The results of this research show that participating in the PMAR increases the probability of continuing in the education system (or leaving it with the ESO certificate) by around 12% after two years. Therefore, the programme does contribute to the prevention of early leaving.
  • 4
       It is important to underline that the positive effects of the PMAR are relatively higher among females, whose participation increases by between 12% and 17% their probability of continuing in education at the end of two years.

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