The debate on the impact of suspended ylto repetition of course in the students it has already been a long journey for years. But in recent months it has gained strength again due to the announcement of the new Education Law, the so-called Celaá Law. In the still draft law, it is announced, among other considerations, that a course will not be repeated even with several subjects suspended – a measure that was already applied previously – or that it will be possible to go to Selectividad with a failed subject.
Failure and repetition of a year in the Spanish educational system is well established. Many studies call that there is a “repetitive culture” in Spain. That is to say, it is believed that the suspense of the subjects and the repetition of the course is the best option for the learning of the students who have not reached the approved one.
The connotation that suspense has in Spain is associated, from different points of view, with a scourge of the student. In families, the “if you don’t pass, we won’t be proud of you” often dominates; and in schools the rule is “if you don’t pass, you are not as good as the others and you have to repeat a year.”
The suspense, in most cases, penetrates the students as something negative that affects their self-esteem, not so much as something with which to overcome and strive. “When we understand suspense as the starting point to be able to improve in a subject, the approach can be very positive and beneficial, since it helps to understand that not all of us are always good at everything and that improving always involves an effort. However, sometimes, suspensions are conceived as punishment or failure without further ado and, in this case, it is difficult to take advantage of them at a didactic level, ”say Cristina Revilla and Natalia Cucalón from the Asociación Pro-Colegio de Pedagogía y Psicopedagogía de la Comunidad de Madrid.
Is it possible to understand suspense as an apprenticeship?
Both from families and from school, the vision of suspense has to be presented not so much as a failure, but as an opportunity to improve, especially to practice tolerance for frustration. “Setting norms, limits, and understanding the meaning of success and failure should be part of family education from early childhood. Self-esteem should not be linked to test results … as this result depends on many factors. Since we cannot control all the variables that intervene in this result, we must educate to understand the reasons for our failures and assimilate them to be able to advance and improve in everything that we propose “, they maintain from the Association
In this way, the psychologist Patricia Ramírez also agrees. “It is not the result itself. If your child comes home with an A, don’t say: it’s great that you got a 9 or a 10. No, ask him the following question: do you remember what you did to get an A? he will say then I made an effort, I put down the Tablet .. And that is what we have to reinforce, the values. Because the results will not always depend on us, but the values and attitudes that we use to achieve it will.
Understand the failed or approved as a grade
The problem with failures is that in most cases they are not seen as a bump to overcome, because in the educational system failure is associated with a grade and not with other factors such as effort. The new Education Law establishes that the grade of the exams should not be the only factor to take into account to suspend or not a student.
For the Asociación Pro-Colegio de Pedagogía y Psicopedagogía of the Community of Madrid, passing or failing a subject should be based on continuous evaluation, and include variables such as effort or complementary activities. And in the event that it is suspended, so that the student can learn from it, there should be both in schools and in families “an accompaniment process that allows us to analyze our activity and our possibilities for improvement”.
“Behind the note there should be an evaluation exercise on the achievement of the objectives, that is, if I fail an exercise of addition and subtraction it is because the objective of learning to add or learn to subtract is not acquired, therefore it is necessary to see which is the one that has not been achieved to work on it. Therefore, the note is a reflection of having acquired some knowledge or not, so suspending should not be something pejorative but rather a report that there is something to continue working on ”, they explain from the Association.
The new law allows to go to Selectividad with a failure
The law also includes that in 2nd Baccalaureate students may pass to Selectivity with a failure. A somewhat contradictory measure, since in the university entrance exams neither personal circumstances, nor trajectory, nor the effort put into account are taken into account, but only the grade obtained in an exam.
In the case of failure in high school subjects, from the Association they point out that “in some cases, it can be positive, since, if the suspended subject is related to the studies that we will carry out later, the failure can be even more harmful when we do not Let’s see ourselves able to face their study. ”And despite going to Selectividad with some failure it may seem a priori something beneficial for students, it can also harm them since their average grade would drop and their chances of entering a career would be reduced .
Repetition in Spain
The latest OECD annual report “Education at a Glance 2021” indicates that Spain is the country within this organization with the most repeaters in compulsory secondary education. From first to third year of ESO, 8.7% of students have repeated a year, compared to the average of 1.9% in the OECD, and from fourth of ESO to Baccalaureate or FP, in Spain the percentage is 7.9 compared to 3% of the countries that make up the OECD.
Repetition affects the large percentage of school dropouts. In 2020, the figures for early school leaving, that is, boys and girls between 18 and 24 years of age who have not passed compulsory secondary education and who do not continue their training, has been reduced compared to other years, but it is still very far from the European Union average. The percentage of men in Spain reached the figure of 20.2%, the highest in the European Union and in women 11.6%, only surpassed by Bulgaria, Malta and Romania. The average levels used in the EU are 11.8% for men and 8% for women.
The new Celaá Law seeks to ensure that repetition occurs on exceptional occasions. In compulsory education, it can only be repeated twice: once in primary school and once in secondary school, and a reinforcement plan is required for that repeater.
Already the OECD in its 2011 report spoke of how repetition is useless, unfair and has a great educational cost, since it is not only about financing one more course for a student, but also delaying their introduction into the world of work .
Studies confirm that repetition of courses demotivates and generates negative thoughts about the ability of students. For example in this investigation by Pedro Ángel Luna Ariza, Inspector of Education in the Territorial Delegation of Education in Córdoba, it is pointed out that “the repetition of the grade does not help the students to mature, it burrows their motivation and could even increase aggressiveness during adolescence. This is not surprising given that it consists of removing the child from their educational environment to place them in a strange one ”.
The socioeconomic variable also affects repetition
Repetition affects differently according to the socioeconomic level of the student. Many families are unable to provide support or the ability to cope with the problems that their children encounter at school. In this way, in this other report of the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Principality of Asturias, it is pointed out that 60% of the repetitions belong to 30% of the students with a low socioeconomic level.
Moreover, in this research they show that when two students from high and low socioeconomic levels have the same school performance and the same learning difficulties, the possibility of repetition is tripled in one with a low socioeconomic level.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.