[MOSAIC] retention question

Carrie Cahill ccahill at msd143.s-cook.k12.il.us
Tue Aug 7 16:24:55 EDT 2007

I wrote my dissertation on retaining students - I wanted to know if
superintendents believed in the practice and if their beliefs matched
their actions - especially in relation to low income students.  My
findings showed that low income students are retained at a high rate
even though the majority of superintendents who were surveyed did not
believe in the validity of this practice!   My review of the literature
did not reveal ANY evidence that retention at ANY grade level resulted
in long-term success for the student.  LONG TERM is the key phrase here.
It may appear, especially to teachers, that a kindergartner or first
grader may do better the next year if they are retained but the research
shows that these gains are SHORT TERM and taper off quickly.  A
longitudinal study showed that of the cohort of students followed, 70%
of those who had been retained once in their life dropped out of school
by age 16 and this percentage increased if they were retained twice in
their school career.


Retention does not work.  Sometimes I feel it's just an easy (not easy
for the student, however) answer to a complicated problem.  An entire
year done over is not the answer to helping our struggling students and
it's not an appropriate punishment for not doing work.  Good teaching IS
the answer!






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