Can Targeted, Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Achievement? Evidence from Epis

40 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2010

See all articles by Pedro S. Martins

Pedro S. Martins

Queen Mary University of London; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Global Labor Organization (GLO); New University of Lisbon


EPIS is an original and large private-sector program aimed at improving student achievement and eroding early school leaving at Portuguese state schools. The program first screens students to focus only on those more likely to perform poorly; and then conducts a number of small-group sessions aimed at improving the non-cognitive skills (e.g. study skills, motivation, self-esteem) of the selected students. Our quasi-experimental evidence of the effects of EPIS is drawn from rich longitudinal student data and the different timings in the roll-out of the program, both within and across schools. The results indicate that the program reduced grade retention by at least 10 percentage points and did so in a cost effective way.

Keywords: student achievement, program evaluation, matched school-student data

JEL Classification: I20, J08

Suggested Citation

Martins, Pedro S., Can Targeted, Non-Cognitive Skills Programs Improve Achievement? Evidence from Epis. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5266, Available at SSRN:

Pedro S. Martins (Contact Author)

Queen Mary University of London ( email )

Mile End Road
London, E1 4NS
United Kingdom


IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Global Labor Organization (GLO) ( email )


New University of Lisbon

Lisbon, 1099-085

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