ERIC Number: ED323585
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990
Reference Count: N/A
Repeating Grades in School: Current Practice and Research Evidence. CPRE Policy Briefs.
Center for Policy Research in Education.
Although grade repetition is prevalent in U.S. schools, recent research indicates that this practice does not work as intended to ensure basic skills mastery, avoid failure at higher grade levels, or lower dropout rates. This report, based on "Flunking Grades: Research and Policies on Retention" (London: Falmer, 1989), edited by Lorrie A. Shepard and Mary Lee Smith, summarizes numerous questions about grade retention and the research evidence. About 5 to 7 percent of public school children are retained in the U.S. annually. By ninth grade, approximately 50 percent of all U.S. students have flunked at least one grade or are no longer in school. Even kindergartners are flunking. A 1989 research synthesis of 63 controlled studies showed that when retained children went on to the next grade, they actually performed more poorly on average than if they had gone on without repeating. Retained students also do more poorly than matched controls on followup measures of social adjustment, attitude toward school, behavioral outcomes, and attendance. Student retention is also associated with an increased probability of dropping out. Alternatives to grade retention include remedial help, before- and after-school programs, summer school, instructional aides working with target children in the regular classroom, and no-cost peer tutoring. Each of these solutions results in more positive achievement gains for participating children than for controls. Better data are needed to determine the costs of retention and the actual numbers of students involved. Summarized information about costs, accelerated schools, and kindergarten retention is highlighted in boxes. (Seven references) (MLH)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for Policy Research in Education.