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Who wants to go to school? Lessons from reforming (back and forth) the school entry age in Poland

The goal of this paper – set in the context of the reform to lower the school starting age in Poland – is to investigate the determinants of parental decisions to enrol their six-year-old children in the 1st grade versus leaving them in preschool or preparatory class. It was found that starting school before the compulsory term occurs primarily in response to objective symptoms of a child’s readiness for school, but there is also some evidence for a deliberate investment in education by parents with a higher socio-economic status. Finally, early enrolment may also be driven by a cost-reducing strategy. The discussion highlights the possible reasons for the political failure of school age reform, which was recently cancelled after having been gradually introduced for six years.


Mikołaj Herbst, Educational Research Institute

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The goal of this paper – set in the context of the reform to lower the school starting age in Poland – is to investigate the determinants of parental decisions to enrol their six-year-old children in the 1st grade versus leaving them in preschool or preparatory class. It was found that starting school before the compulsory term occurs primarily in response to objective symptoms of a child’s readiness for school, but there is also some evidence for a deliberate investment in education by parents with a higher socio-economic status. Finally, early enrolment may also be driven by a cost-reducing strategy. The discussion highlights the possible reasons for the political failure of school age reform, which was recently cancelled after having been gradually introduced for six years.

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