ERIC Number: ED445015
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-May
Should We End Social Promotion? Truth and Consequences.
Hauser, Robert M.
This paper reviews the extent and consequences of grade retention in elementary and secondary school. The first part of the paper reviews recent proposals for test-based grade promotion and retention. These are based on politically attractive, but scientifically unsupported claims about the benefits of retention, and minority students are more likely to be subject to these claims. The second part of the paper outlines what is known about rates, trends, and differentials in grade retention in the United States. Sound data are scarce, but current retention rates are much higher than is generally believed. At least 15% of students are retained between ages 6 to 8 and 15 to 17, and a substantial amount of retention occurs before or after these ages. Retention rates are much higher for boys and members of minority groups than for girls and the white majority. Retention rates have also grown substantially over the past two decades. A review of the scientific evidence about retention shows that the academic benefits of retention are both temporary and costly. When previous academic performance and relevant social characteristics are controlled, past grade retention accelerates current school dropout rates. There is no evidence for claims that new retention polices will be coupled with effective remediation of learning deficits that would be worth their cost or would offset the well-established long-term negative effects of retention. (Contains 10 figures and 61 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Version of this paper presented at the Conference of the Harvard Civil Rights Project on Civil Rights and High Stakes Testing (New York, NY, December 1998).