EdMedia Commons Archive

Is Retention Making a Comeback?

Salon’s David Sirota takes grade retention proponents to the mat in his column Monday:

“If Einstein’s definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,’ then it stands to reason that the politics of education have gone completely mad. That’s a logical conclusion as states now consider retention legislation to force young children to repeat a grade if they don’t meet state literacy standards. The legislation, in other words, would put students through the very same curriculum they just experienced — with the expectation of different results.”

He goes on to cite research from National Institutes of Health, which concludes that “grade retention either bestows no benefits on the retained student or has a negative impact on achievement and on social and emotional adjustment, self-confidence, and attachment to school.”

Sirota asserts one reason retention remains popular is that it allows politicians to take a hard line on student achievement by championing a method of reform that doesn’t require money, a notion Sirota scoffs at. Do you think that’s a fair assessment of the retention issue?


This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.