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Grade Retention and School Adjustment: An Explanatory Analysis

Arthur J. Reynolds
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
Vol. 14, No. 2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 101-121
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1164496
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Grade Retention and School Adjustment: An Explanatory Analysis
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Abstract

Although grade retention remains a controversial educational practice, the accumulated research indicates that retention has negative and often harmful effects on academic achievement and other educational outcomes. This study tested the effects of early grade retention on reading achievement, mathematics achievement, teacher ratings, and perceived competence in Grade 4 for 1,255 low-income, mostly Black children. Results indicated that 20.4% of the sample were retained from kindergarten to Grade 3, a rate much higher than the national average. Longitudinal analysis of a good-fitting model of retention indicated that retention had mixed effects on children's school adjustment at Grade 4. Retention had substantially negative effects on cognitive achievement in reading and mathematics, with both effects over twice the size reported in many previous studies. Retention was unrelated to teacher ratings of school adjustment but positively affected children's perceived school competence, particularly for early-retained children. Analyses of a matched control group of 200 promoted children yielded similar results, but effects were even larger than those in the total-group analysis. The findings of this study do not support grade retention as an educational practice with children at risk.

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