Contemporary Issues in American Education
Erica R. Jenkins
University of Phoenix, Axia College
June 20, 2009
Can Retention Be Good For a Student?
Existing policies in many districts, is of one that promotes social promotion if the parent(s) are adamant about retention. Social promotion, is it the right choice for our struggling children? Are there alternative methods to retention? What is best for our students? There are way too many case studies that support grade retention for our children who do not meet the required curriculum. One argument is that “low-achieving students who are promoted to a grade a level where they are unable to do the required work suffer emotionally and drop further behind in their school work” (Beck, Cook, and Kearney as cited in Barlow and Schwager, 1990, p.3). I felt like this about one of my students this pass school term. This child was in second grade and could not complete simple math problems nor could she pronounce words that should have been learned in kindergarten. This was a concern because this child had not completed or learned the basics necessary for promotion, but she was being placed in a situation where she would not be able to handle the stress of being pushed to learn things that she should have already known in addition to learning things to get her prepared for the next grade level.
Another argument is the risk of retention will stimulate the children to work harder within the classroom in order to avoid being retained and separated from their peer groups (Oakes, 1999). Withholding students can sometimes get them ready for academic success, as an alternative of setting the child up for recurring failure or low self-esteem issues. Retention allows you to grasp the information, in which they may have not been ready for. Practicing a skill helps us to learn and to improve on that skill. Students that are developmentally not ready to deal with or handle the required courses may be in need of another year for their skill level to compare to the anticipated values. Some students are forced to absorb more and higher-level information than they are biologically ready to process. Then, when such totally inappropriate attempts at education fail to work as intended, these same students are forced to spend extensive amounts of time working with specialists or being subjected to intensive remediation, when all many of the students ever really needed was more time to develop and learn. (Grant, 1997, p.27)
Retention is also considered to be a useful method for promoting responsibility in children. A lot of followers “believe that high standards must be maintained even if they impose educational and personal hardships on many of our children." Some also believe that promotion to the next grade is a reward for accomplishment and thus must be ‘earned’ (Doyle, 1989, p.217-218). Sometimes being held back can produce constructive effects on a child. It has also been a huge debate over social promotion vs. grade retention. Studies have been conducted all across the world using statistics. Some preferred social promotion while the others preferred grade retention. Additional instruction won’t essentially assist children to be taught the material which, he or she has unsuccessfully learned the previous time. A factor that contributes to this is the curricula lose its test in such a way the student is obligated to duplicate similar material in the same fashion of instruction as they did before. It is no guarantee that, if the student did not learn the material on their first attempt, that they will routinely comprehend or grasp it on the next try. In addition, the primary school core curriculum doesn’t change considerably from one year to the next for advancement to be ineffective. A huge amount of reviewing is done, which allows a child several opportunities and methods to retain the information while staying with their classmates....
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