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ERIC Number: ED517457
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 24
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-5821-3144-3
Early Grade Retention and Student Success: Evidence from Los Angeles
Cannon, Jill S.; Lipscomb, Stephen
Public Policy Institute of California
When a student fails to master academic material, educators face a range of choices--they can provide extra tutoring, place the student in summer school, or, as a last resort, hold the student back for a year. This last option--retention--often proves to be a difficult and contentious issue for both schools and parents. California currently lacks a clear picture of retention: Who is retained? How do retained students fare in the repeated year? And can retention help struggling students reach proficiency? This report examines these questions by focusing on early elementary school retention in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which serves 11 percent of the public school students in the state. The authors find that 7.5 percent of students in the district are retained before the third grade. They also find that retention rates vary across schools and even across schools with similar student populations. Risk factors for retention, in addition to poor academic performance, span a range of student characteristics. The authors find that relatively younger students and boys are much more likely than other students to be held back, even when all else is equal. Other risk factors include low household income, English learner status, and Latino or African American race/ethnicity. Students with several of these risk factors can face up to a one-in-nine chance of being retained. The authors' interviews with LAUSD principals show quite varied attitudes to retention. Many acknowledge that it can have short-term benefits, but some remain concerned about long-term consequences. Their findings suggest that a blanket policy against retention may be misguided. Of course, earlier interventions to prevent retention are in the best interests of all--of students and, because of costs, of school districts and the state. (Contains 5 figures, 2 tables and 29 notes.) [This research was conducted with the support of Karina Jaquet. For "Early Grade Retention and Student Success: Evidence from Los Angeles. Technical Appendices", see ED517458.
Public Policy Institute of California. 500 Washington Street Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111. Tel: 415-291-4400; Fax: 415-291-4401; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Authoring Institution: Public Policy Institute of California
Identifiers - Location: California