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ERIC Number: ED561797
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 211
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3034-5853-8
The Impacts of Grade Retention: Benefits and Challenges Perceived by Retained Middle School Students
Rand, Lauren E.
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Drexel University
No Child Left Behind legislation and high stakes testing have increased the pressure for public schools to ensure academic achievement for all students. Each year, a large number of students do not demonstrate adequate achievement and are retained to repeat the grade level. The large number of students retained is an indication that the system does not work for a large portion of American students. The impacts of retention and whether it is a beneficial or harmful practice has been debated for years. There is much literature written about grade retention, however, there is little research about the experiences of students who have been retained and how they experience learning within the school system. This interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) study explored the lives of four students who were retained at a Pennsylvania middle school in order to describe their experiences with retention and uncover the impacts of the intervention that can only be seen by those who have lived it. By giving retained students a voice, this study answered the research question: What characterizes the experiences and responses of students who were retained in a Pennsylvania middle school? IPA methodology was selected as the most effective way to explore the individual experiences of the participants. Data was collected through four in depth interviews over a three-month period. Their experiences, challenges and achievements were portrayed from the perspectives of the participants. Each case was analyzed and written as a narrative, using verbatim quotes, depicting the story and voice of each participant. A cross-case analysis identified emergent themes that described the essence of the experience for the group as a whole. These themes were used to reflect back and provide answers to the research questions. By giving this population of students a voice, this study revealed what it is like to be a retained student and the impacts of the intervention through the eyes of the individuals who have experienced it. This study found that students display an internal conflict when it comes to whether grade retention is a helpful or harmful practice. For the participants in this study, the topic of grade retention cannot simply be described as good or bad. The implications from this study revealed that student failure is not the result of academic struggles as much as it is the result of a combination of a student's place as well as their emotional and mental maturity. Place refers to the variables that are unique for each student, such as their race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. A student's place directly impacts their academic motivation and their successes and failures at school. This study also found that student failures are an indication that the school system itself is failing. The current school structure, high stakes testing, and education reform focused on standardization is not effective for this population of students. The findings of this study call for educational reform by raising structural concerns that schools must address. This study serves as a springboard to promote dialogue among educators. The findings reveal that school leaders need to drastically change the structure of the current school system to better meet the needs of this student population. This study questions educational reform such as No Child Left Behind, and the standardization of United States schools. Lastly, this study proves the importance of listening to the voices of students. Their perspectives provided valuable insight into the educational system that is critical when making educational decisions. Ideas for future research conclude this study. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Middle Schools; Secondary Education; Junior High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001