Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Brian Barger

Second Advisor

Dr. Ai Leen Choo


INTRODUCTION: Grade retention is designed to give children who appear to be falling behind a chance to catch up and meet the requirements for their grade level so that the child has an opportunity to meet the academic level needed to advance. Historically, students at the highest risk for being retained have the following characteristics: male, African American or Hispanic, developmental delays, reading problems, difficulties with peer relationships, speaking a language other than English, and other determining factors. In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Hispanic and Black students are one- and one-half times more likely to be retained than White students, but little research has been conducted to see if this disparity exists amongst children with speech and language disorders (SPLD).

AIM: The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between racially diverse children who have speech and language disorders (SPLD) and their likelihood of being retained a grade in primary and secondary education.

METHODS: Data from the 2016-2021 National Survey of Children’s Health will be used to conduct a logistic regression analysis. The predictors selected for my models are the following: gender, race/ethnicity, parental education, income level, language use, and history of special education and/or speech therapy. Since grade retention is being assessed, children who are less than 5 years of age were excluded.

RESULTS: Logistic regression models showed that there was a statistical significance between the presence of a SPLD and grade retention. Odds ratios were translated by using Cohen’s d (0.2 = small; .5 = medium; .8 = large) translation to 0.2 ~ OR = 1.54; .5 ~ OR = 2.83; .8 ~ 4.95) to indicate the extent of the interactions. For example, children with a SPLD had 3.36 times the odds of being retained relative to children who do not have a SPLD, so there was a moderate, but significant association present.

DISCUSSION: While overall grade retention rates have decreased over time, disparities remain amongst racial and ethnic populations, particularly for children with SPLD. This study revealed that children with SPLD have an increased likelihood of being retained. Therefore, the results will inform speech-language pathologists as well as teachers and school administrators about the academic performance of children with SPLD and devise ways for them to succeed despite their communication difficulties.


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