Related literature and studies about retention policy
Studies on the effects of retention follow this design: Researchers identify a group of students who have been retained in a grade. Then they find another group, matched in relevant characteristics to the retained group, which had instead been promoted to the next grade. Usually, the groups are matched on achievement test scores so that they wereequally low before the retention or promotion occured. Then, the achievement test scores of the two group are compared at the end of the following year or at the end of the next grade.
Two meta-analyses have been conducted, one on the studiesup to 1989and the other on studies conducted between 1990 and 1999. In the first meta-analyses, Holmes found out that the overall difference in mean achievement across 63 studies was- 31. This means that, one or two years later, the group that have been eligible to be retainedbut was instead promoted had a better level of average achievement than the peer group which had been retained.
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54 of the 63 studies favored the promoted group.
Such a one-sided division of studiesis rarely observed in education research. In the second meta-analyses, Jimerson integrated 18 studies of the effects of the retention conducted between 1990-1999. Only about 10% of the studies favored the retained group. The overall effect size was- 39. This means roughly that after the retention or promotion the retained group members were about three school months behind their initially comparable peers. Any early advantage that had been observed for the retained group disappeared overtime.
*Alexander, K. , Entwisle, D. , & Kabbani, N. (1999). Grade retention, social promotion, and “third way” alternatives. Paper presented at the National Invitational Conference hosted by the Laboratory for Student Success at Temple University for Research in Human Development and Education. Alexandria, Virginia (November 29–December 1). Foreign Literature Amidst an era emphasizing educational standards and accountability, and politicians calling for an end to social promotion, the practice of grade retention has become increasingly popular.
Consistent with the political zeitgeist across the country, the California Legislature has recently approved bills directing educational professionals to establish promotion performance standards. These actions have revived many debates regarding the relative merits and limitations of grade retention and social promotion. Given the abundance of research examining the efficacy of grade retention as well as alternative prevention and intervention strategies, education professionals are encouraged to make informed decisions.
School psychologists are in a unique position to play an important role in encouraging educational professionals to use interventions with demonstrated effectiveness. This synthesis of grade retention research provides a review of: (a) research examining the effects of grade retention on academic achievement, (b) research examining the effects of grade retention on socioemotional adjustment, (c) research exploring long-term outcomes associated with grade retention, (d) a conceptual framework to facilitate interpretation of the research, and (e) ideas to move forward in identifying and implementing effective alternatives to grade retention.
School psychologists and other educational professionals are encouraged to incorporate the research literature when advocating for appropriate prevention and intervention services on behalf of students. *A Synthesis of Grade Retention Research: Looking Backward and Moving Forward Shane R. Jimerson Foreign Literature Grade retention is the practice of keeping low-achieving students at the same grade level for an additional year to provide them with extra time to catch up, as opposed to social promotion, the practice of promoting students regardless of whether they have mastered the grade content.
As part of an increasing emphasis on standards and accountability, many districts now use standardized test scores as one of the main criteria for grade retention. However, studies have shown that students do not appear to benefit from being retained and, indeed, that retention may increase their risk of dropping out of school. In 2003–2004, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) implemented a new promotion policy for 3rd-grade students, which was later extended to 5th, 7th, and 8th graders.
NYCDOE asked RAND to conduct an independent longitudinal evaluation to provide evidence of the program’s impact on 5th graders. This report, one of in a series documenting the results of the study (conducted between March 2006 and August 2009) identifies and reviews 91 studies that examine the effect of grade retention on a variety of student academic and socioemotional outcomes. *A Literature Review of the Effects of Retention on Students’ Academic and Nonacademic Outcomes by Nailing Xia, Sheila Nataraj Kirby