ERIC Number: ED539218
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun-1
Reference Count: 0
The Effects of Retention on Drop-Out and Graduation Rates. Research Brief
Education Partnerships, Inc.
What is the relationship between retention, drop-out and graduation rates? Retention of low-achieving students is one of the most controversial and complex issues educational leaders face, despite a half century of research that has shown consistently that any gains in achievement are short-lived, and the long-term effects for retained students more often than not are devastating (Allensworth, 2004; Jimerson, 2001b; House, 1998; Roderick, M. & Nagaoka, 2005). The practice of grade retention (also referred to as non-promotion, being held back, or "flunking") requires that a student who has not performed well in a particular grade remains at that grade level for an additional year. Typically, "30% to 50% of students will be retained at least once by 9th grade ... [and] 5-10% of students are retained annually" (Jimerson, 2001b). Despite overwhelming evidence that the practice does not benefit students academically and, indeed, does great harm, it continues to be popular among both educators and politicians who decry "social promotion" and believe that "the threat of retention as much as retention itself will lead to higher performance" (Roderick & Nagaoka, p. 310). Those who promote retention from this underlying assumption believe expectations for high performance must be coupled with negative consequences for those who fail to perform. Other educators advocate for retention of low-performing students because of the promise of an extra year of instruction and time some students need to "catch up" with their age-mates academically or socially. Although these assumptions may seem logical, they cannot be supported by the body of research on retention (House; Jimerson 2001a, 2001b). The threat of retention simply does not serve to motivate those students most likely to drop out, and achievement gains are not large enough or long-term enough to mitigate the negative effect of retention on the very students most likely to be retained (Roderick & Nagaoka). A list of references and online resources are cited.
Descriptors: Grade Repetition, Social Promotion, Achievement Gains, Graduation Rate, Dropout Rate, Influences, At Risk Students, Teacher Role, Student Motivation
Education Partnerships, Inc. Web site: http://www.educationpartnerships.org
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Partnerships, Inc. (EPI)