Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

N. 65 - "Multigrading and Child Achievement" - Gian Paolo Barbetta, Giuseppe Sorrenti and Gilberto Turati


We exploit Italian law DPR 81/2009, which determines class composition, as an instrument to identify the causal effect of grouping students of different grades into a single class (multigrading) on children cognitive achievement. This article focuses on 7-year-old students - those at the beginning of their formal education. Results suggest that attendance in multigrade classes versus single-grade classes increases students' performance on standardized tests by 15-20 percent of a standard deviation. The positive impact of multigrading only appears for children sharing their class with peers from higher grades and is relatively stronger for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Keywords: Multigrade classes, child development, peer effects, rural areas
JEL codes: I26, I28, R53