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Dropout Prevention Measures in the Netherlands, An Evaluation

Dropout Prevention Measures in the Netherlands, An Evaluation

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Published by: Proiectul SOS on Mar 23, 2011
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Dropout prevention measures in the Netherlands, anevaluation
Kristof De Witte
y
TIER, Maastricht UniversityKapoenstraat 2, 6200 MaastrichtandKU LeuvenNaamsestraat 693000 Leuven, Belgium
So…e J. Cabus
TIER, Maastricht UniversityKapoenstraat 2, 6200 MaastrichtApril 26, 2010
Abstract
In line with the Lisbon Agenda, set by the European Council in the year 2000,European governments formulated ambitious plans to half the level of early school leaversby 2012. This paper outlines the dropout prevention measures in the Netherlands andanalyzes their e¤ect at both the individual level and school level. Using a panel probitmodel, we …nd little in‡uence of policy at the individual level. By means of quantileregressions, we observe that schools with a relatively high dropout rate bene…t the mostfrom dropout prevention measures.
Keywords
: E¤ectiveness, Dropout prevention, Secondary education, Logit, Quan-tile regression
JEL-classi…cation
: I21, C35
Corresponding author: kristof.dewitte@econ.kuleuven.be
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We would like to thank Wim Groot, Henriëtte Maassen van den Brink, Chris van Klaveren, MartonCsillag, participants of the TIER seminar at the University of Groningen, members of the ’feedback committee’at the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences and ’The Scienti…c Review Commission’ at NICISInstitute for insightful comments.
1
 
1 Introduction
"All Dutch municipalities should register (potential) dropout students and make sure that by following a suited educational track, they obtain a starters quali…cation".
(OCW, 2010, p.1)Over the last decades, societies have developed from an industrial towards a knowledge-driven economy.
“The economic welfare of individuals and the competitive advantage of nations have come to depend on knowledge, skills and enterprise of the workforce" 
(Brown etal., 2003). Investment in human capital plays a key-role in economic prosperity. The humancapital theory suggests that schooling raises productivity and earnings (Becker, 1992, 1993)and can serve as one’s signal of productivity (Spence, 1973). Nelson and Phelps (1966) andSchultz (1967) treat human capital of the workforce as a crucial factor for adoption of -innovative - productive technologies.Every year, many students drop out of school without obtaining a higher secondary edu-cation diploma. This is not desirable in a knowledge-driven economy, not only for society’sproductiveness, but also for individual development. These so-called ’dropout students’ or’early school leavers’ constitute a group that is heavily at risk (Psacharopoulos, 2007). Theyhave a relatively higher risk of (1) entering a vicious circle in which on turn their children ob-tain lower education levels (e.g., Bowles, 1972; McLanahan, 1985; Anger and Heineck, 2009),(2) long-term unemployment or failing to secure productive employment (e.g., Rumbergerand Lamb, 2003; OECD, 2008), (3) su¤ering from health problems (e.g., Groot and Maassenvan den Brink, 2007) or (4) lack of social cohesion (e.g., Milligan et al., 2004; van der Steegand Webbink, 2006).At the Lisbon 2000 summit, the European council decided to aim for a lower dropout rate,among other benchmarks. The average rate of early school leavers should be no more than10% by 2012. Following the European council, we de…ne an early school leaver (or dropout)as a person younger than 23 who leaves education without a higher secondary educationdegree. Thanks to political eagerness to tackle the problem, the European member statesdeveloped various programs to reduce dropping out at secondary education. From Figure1,we could deduce a declining trend in the dropout rates in EU countries. Since 1992, theEuropean dropout rate has fallen from about 35% to about 17%.
1
Determining the most e¤ective way of tackling the dropout problem is not straightforwardas students do not dropout at secondary education because of one speci…c drawback. Theyoften are piling up problems, both at home, in their neighborhood or at school, before they
1
Dropout is also a major issue in other continents. For instance, consider the following citation out of theinauguration speech of U.S. president Obama. "
Every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option 
" (Obama, 2009).
2
 
0510152025303540
1992199319941995199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007
People in EU-12 aged 18-24 with only lower secondary educationnot in education (in %)
Figure 1: Dropout rates of high schools in the EUactually make the dropout decision (Rumberger, 2001). The literature indicates, for instance,that dropout students change school more often (Rumberger and Larson, 1998), have moreretentions in grade (Roderick, 1994; Jimerson, 1999), struggle through their study curriculum(Garnier et al., 1997), are more often involved in criminal activities (Elliot and Voss, 1974;Phillips and Kelly, 1979), use more often cannabis, alcohol or other drugs (Fergusson etal., 2003; ter Borgt et al., 2009), and are more likely to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods(Bobonis and Finan, 2009) and in poorer families (Nelson et al., 1996). It is the accumulationof small and large problems which pushes the pupil eventually towards the dropout decision.This paper discusses the dropout prevention policy in the Netherlands and analyzes itse¤ectiveness. Numerous measures and actions have been taken nationwide. Because of theunderlying population, di¤erent regions and cities have often di¤erent needs. Therefore, theMinistry of Education created 39 regional dropout authorities (RMC) in 2002. Each of thoseregions can take di¤erent actions towards policy goal settings. As this is not desirable forworking up to an integral approach (Holter and Bruinsma, 2009), the Ministry of Educationdecided to outline a general framework, known as the ’covenants’ (‘gentlemen agreements’).A covenant is a signed written agreement between the Ministry on the one hand and theRMC and the schools at the other hand. The covenants contain a list of measures (‘menu-items’) and actions to …ght dropout, e.g., to improve the registration of non-attendance anddropout, to improve ‡exibility of educational participation, to intensify the care for potentialdropouts and to increase attention for a good preparation for apprenticeships. In this way,there are 39 covenants. The Ministry of Education signed covenants in all RMC-regions inthe Netherlands over the period 2007-2008. Nevertheless, in 2006-2007 14 regions with the3

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