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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Same thing next year? Grade retention.

March 18, 2008

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

Research just doesn't support grade retention, particularly for students in the older grades. I've blogged about this before and included a few good readings for those interested in reading position statements and a meta-analysis on grade retention. The March 2008 issue of Educational Leadership also includes a short summary of the research on the topic.

There is little research on the impact of retention for younger kids, particularly for students retained after their kindergarten year. One thing is clear: if a child is retained, his instruction the second year must be different. Doing the same thing for a second year is not a solution.

In some situations, a carefully planned and executed intensive intervention delivered during the repeated year by a reading specialist or other professional may produce the types of results teachers and parents hope for. There are other options for providing additional instruction besides spending another whole year in school — summer school and extended day programs are two options.

What's your experience with grade retention? Have you seen it help or hurt?

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