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School Achievement and Failure in Portuguese and Spanish Speaking Countries

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School achievement is a main topic and school failure a main problem in several Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Data from Portugal show that the yearly rate of retention and dropouts at basic school in 2008 was 7.6 for basic School (ISCED level 1). A study on ...

School achievement is a main topic and school failure a main problem in several Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America. Data from Portugal show that the yearly rate of retention and dropouts at basic school in 2008 was 7.6 for basic School (ISCED level 1). A study on the proportion of 15-year-old pupils who had repeated at least once at ISCED level 1 in the European Union shows the highest rate for Portugal, followed by France and Spain (Eurydice, 2011). Consequently, in 2014 Spain had the highest rate of early leaving school (number of individuals with 18-24 years of age that did not end school and do not go to school for each 100 individuals of the same age) in the European Union, and Portugal occupied place number four. Failing at school means for many children the beginning of a long way of problems in their life, with social, economic, and political sequelae. A similar situation can be found in other countries.

There are in Portugal three main manifestations of school failure, which are probably common to other countries with the same problem, namely leaving school before ending the compulsory education (early leaving), successive failure leaving to a décalage between school year and the chronological age of children (called rate of retention), and referring children to special schools. Even if the main reason for school leaving is not clear, we might suppose that 45% of children had some kind of academic problem at school age. Educational authorities and teachers have been aware of the problem for many years ago and a set of causes have been proposed, like cognitive deficiencies of children, an inadequate family environment, low SES, bad teaching methods, faulty school organization, or unorganized curricula. All these factors are probably right, but the problem persists and concrete proposals are urgently needed at all levels.

Psychology can make an important contribution to understand school achievement and failure at an individual level. Probably the school achievement or failure of a single child is a result of many of factors acting together, which must be studied from a psychological perspective. Consequently, there is an urgent need for research on school achievement and failure in the specific conditions of Portuguese and Spanish speaking regions of the world.

The aim of this Research Topic falls under two main goals: 1) to explore techniques of intervention to prevent school failure and promote school achievement in the specific conditions of the mentioned countries, 2) to explore comparatively the situation of school achievement and failure in these countries. We welcome original research, reviews and analyses on topics dealing with these issues, with a focus on empirical supported approaches to help solving concrete problems.


Keywords: School failure, School achievement, Children at risk, Learning reading & writing, Learning Mathematics


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