2023 Increase in Portuguese School Dropout Rate
News | 13 February 2024 2023 Increase in Portuguese School Dropout Rate

The school dropout rate has been in a continuous decline in Portugal for the last 18 years. In 2023, though, it has risen from 6.5% to 8%.

Pedro Freitas, researcher at the Nova SBE Economics of Education Knowledge Center, was on the TV program "Esta Manhã" (TVI) to present possible explanations for these data, and whether or not they should be cause for concern.

The researcher mentioned that the school dropout rate is still significantly low if compared with rates from a recent past, highlighting that in 2011, for instance, school dropout was at about 20%. He stated that it is not yet possible to determine if this recent increase is a mere correction of what happened during the pandemic or if we are in fact dealing with a reversal of an 18-year-old pattern.

Referring to surveys made by the Economics of Education Knowledge Center to elementary, middle-school and high-school teachers during the pandemic, Pedro Freitas reminded that teachers' internal student assessment throughout this period has been made more difficult by long distance learning. This factor, together with an absence of national exams, translated into students transiting to the next school year with less obstacles. Additionally, the job market has been stagnant during the pandemic, which meant that there were less opportunities for students who aimed to drop out of the school system. These factors might justify the rise in the school dropout rate in 2023, when classes and, consequently, teacher assessment, returned to a regular pattern.

In this interview, there was also mention of the fact that boys drop out of school more than girls which, according to the researcher, might be related to the fact that boys have lower grades than girls in teachers' internal assessment, a gap that has widened in recent years and that is prevalent not only in Portugal, but in several other countries as well.

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