Running Head: GRADE LEVEL RETENTION 1
Grade Level Retention:
What are the Perceptions and Effectiveness of the Practice?
Anthony A. Hoffmeyer
GRADE LEVEL RETENTION 2 Abstract
Retaining a child at grade level has become popular due to the emphasis on accountability and standards in elementary education. This literature review provides a critique of the research examining the academic and socioemotional outcomes associated with grade retention. The push for student retention is demanded by school boards, school administrators, and teachers in spite of the overwhelming research that grade retention does not support the improvement of academic performance or personal behavioral qualities. Given the abundance of research examining the efficacy of grade retention as well as alternative intervention strategies, education professionals are encouraged to make informed decisions. This literature review will attempt to provide information pertaining to the effects of grade retention on academic achievement, socioemotional adjustments, long-term outcomes of grade retention, and ideas to move forward with effective alternatives to grade retention. Educational professionals are encouraged to incorporate the research literature when advocating for intervention services on behalf of students. This review contends that research studies do not support the use of grade retention and also claims that retention is an inappropriate practice. Suggestions for improving retention studies are offered.
Key Words: Grade retention, academic achievement, meta-analysis, grade failure, flunked, failed,
retained, No Child Left Behind
GRADE LEVEL RETENTION 3 INTRODUCTION
To be held back or repeat a grade seems to be prevalent in American schools. Arguments for retaining a child include immaturity and failure to meet academic standards. Those who oppose retention claim that retention is not beneficial to students’ progress, the financial and self-esteem costs are simply too great, and there is a correlative relationship with dropping out of school. With an increasing emphasis on accountability and standards in elementary education, those of us in educational professions seek alternatives to retention. The majority of research demonstrates having low-performing students repeat a grade is an ineffective practice. With nearly 100 years of research on grade retention, the quality of studies has varied. Most research examines academic achievement benefits from grade retention, but few measure the effects of grade retention on social and psychological adjustment outcomes of retained students. Even fewer studies have examined long-term outcomes associated with grade retention. Educational professionals debate the merits and limitations of “social promotion” versus “grade retention.” Perhaps we should discuss strategies to facilitate the education of at-risk children who are at risk of academic failure. There has been a recent emphasis on research based academic interventions as possible alternatives to merely retaining students. Educational professionals are implementing practices called “Response to Interventions” or RtI for short. These strategies include early reading interventions, more parental involvement, cognitive and behavioral modifications, direct instruction and other promising strategies. Interventions will be examined later in this literature review. Educators should be encouraged to pilot interventions,
GRADE LEVEL RETENTION 4 examine the efficacy, and document the merits and limitations of...
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