Although almost 50 years of research has shown that grade-level retention affords no academic advantages to students, this practice is gaining increasing attention as schools face political pressure to be accountable for student achievement. The negative effect that retention has on children is ignored in favor of an overly simplistic view of it as a panacea for education woes. In an attempt to better meet student needs, educators historically have seen retention as a way to reduce skill variance in the classroom. However, this practice has not achieved its objective. An at-risk population is cognitively and affectively harmed by retention. Educators need to stop punishing nonlearners and instead provide opportunities for success if they are to treat their students professionally. Alternatives that should be considered include offering intensive remediation before and after school, requiring summer school, increasing teacher expectations, and changing teacher and administrative perceptions.
© 1998 Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, now Robin Merger Corporation, Inc.
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Original Publication Citation
Owings, W. A., & Magliaro, S. (1998). Grade retention: A history of failure. Educational Leadership, 56(1), 86-88.
Owings, William A. and Magliaro, Susan, "Grade Retention: A History of Failure" (1998). Educational Foundations & Leadership Faculty Publications. 110.
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