The draft to reform the controversial 'Ley Wert' has put the focus on one of the pending subjects of the Spanish educational system: the rate of repetitive students. In a country where a third of 15-year-old students are repeating a high school course, the government has proposed personalized plans in ESO to rescue the repeaters and avoid the risk of dropping out. But also, the Executive has put on the table the possibility of also making more flexible the number of courses to overcome the baccalaureate in this group of students and exceptionally expand the possibility of studying this stage in three years. This means that, instead of repeating the first year of baccalaureate, students will be able to take the second year only with the suspended subjects – it is repeated with more than two failed subjects – and, if they want, to add a subject of the second year of the baccalaureate. The third year would finish the pending subjects of the last official course.
If the experts agree on something, it is that the rates of repetitive students in Spain are very high and the measure works rather little. In fact, Spain has received more than a tug on the ears of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to reduce the percentage of repeaters. "Repeating is a disadvised measure because the student not only does not improve, but it gets worse. It is counterproductive, generates stigma and, above all, is very expensive ", ditch Ismael Palacín, director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, a research center on education.
Government measures seek Loyalty to students so that they do not leave the educational system. "It can be useful for more students to finish the stage and access higher education. The same in two years they are choked, but in three, they can do it ", appreciates Alberto Arriazu, spokesman of the federation of associations of directors of public centers. According to data from the Ministry of Education, 10.7% of students in the first year of high school repeated in the 2015-2016 academic year. Second, the figure was 15.4%.
The measure of the draft distance from the proposal that led the PP in its electoral program in 2011 and went through to extend the baccalaureate to three years at the cost of cutting one to compulsory education. "A model 40 years ago, more unfair socially and where you centrifuge the poor," rejects Palacín.
The draft does not contemplate extending the three years of baccalaureate to all students – not just repeaters – and delaying access to higher education for a year. This measure, however, has generated discussion in the sector. "It is a debate that is not closed and is not alien to the PSOE or to some educational actors. It is a proposal that should be calibrated to articulate post-compulsory studies with more substance and coherence. But you would have to think about how to do it and how it is located in relation to secondary and university, "says Pedro Badía, responsible for educational policies of CC OO.
Experts warn that the government's proposals to reduce repetition rates are "a patch". "Instead of going to the source of the problem, they assume that there will be repeaters. The solution is prevention, avoid repeating, intervene before and detect students who have educational needs, give additional classes but before they repeat or make the curriculum more flexible, "says Álvaro Choi, professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Barcelona and an expert in the economics of education. Ismael Palacín, director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation agrees: "Everything that eliminates barriers helps. But you have to try to avoid repetition. This is an extreme resource, not just another tool. "