Title

Grade Retention Policies and Student Success

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2019

Abstract

Retaining lower-performing students and requiring them to repeat a grade is a relatively common practice across the United States. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 2.3 percent of students in grades kindergarten through eight were retained in grade in 2015. In principle, grade retention gives students a chance to improve on key performance indicators, and if retention is coupled with supplementary support services, these additional resources can also aid the student in catching up and achieving grade-level proficiency.

School districts facing decisions on whether to retain students are left to balance these mixed findings while following state grade retention rules, making the implementation of retention policies a relatively complex issue. In this policy brief report, we examine the student retention policy of one of MAPLE’s partner school districts. Making use of historical individual-level data and prior retention policies that allowed for summer retest opportunities, we explore systematic correlations between specific policy characteristics and student outcomes in the short-term including test scores and disciplinary incidents.

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