Grade Retention Doesn’t Work!
Most of the research on repeating grades shows that grade retention doesn’t work nor facilitate learning for struggling students! A meta-analysis by Jimenez in the early 2000’s compiled numerous studies leading to this same conclusion! However, many school districts engage in this practice out of sheer desperation and a need to feel that they are actively addressing the problem of poor academic performance. Current research also maintains that keeping students back due to immaturity proves futile.
The main question that drives this discussion is, What will be different the next time around? If a student fails a grade and is retained a second year with no changes to curriculum, teaching or remedial assistance, it could lead one to believe that the district thinks that the previous teacher was ineffective! Therefore, another year with a new teacher will ‘fix’ the student? The emotional toll on students who return to school the next year only to see their peers move up a grade without them is embarrassing and a serious concern, as well. Research also shows that many students who repeat grades have undiagnosed learning disabilities. New IDEA and state laws have greatly improved the districts’ ability to identify learning disabled students earlier. If RTI programs are fully and effectively implemented, more gaps in student performance can be closed, also.
This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.