'Portrait of a sad child' photo (c) 2008, Kevin Pack - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Over at my Education Week Teacher column, I’ll be soon answering a question related to grade retention and social promotion. As part of my answer, I thought I’d put together a list of useful online resources.

Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning About Grade Retention, Social Promotion & Alternatives To Both:

Critical Issue: Beyond Social Promotion and Retention—Five Strategies to Help Students Succeed is from North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Chicago’s Social Promotion Ban Quietly Fades is from Education Week.

OECD: Holding Back, Expelling Students Weakens Ed. Systems is also from Ed Week.

Designs For Change in Chicago developed a report on the topic.

Research Finds Fault with Chicago’s Retention Program is by Donald Moore at Designs for Change.

Social Promotion – In Comparison to Grade Retention, Advantages and Disadvantages, Different Perspectives

The Consortium on Chicago School Research has produced a series of Ending Social Promotion reports.

Several states are considering requiring mandatory retention of third graders who don’t read at grade level. Here are some articles and posts about this insanity, and I’m adding them to this list:

Schools Get Tough With Third-Graders: Read Or Flunk is from NPR.

Third Grade Again: The Trouble With Holding Students Back is from The Atlantic.

Retention Costs More, Accomplishes Less is from Robert Slavin at Ed Week.

Flunking 3rd Graders is Not an Intervention is by John Wilson at Ed Week.

The Opposite Of Social Promotion
is by Nancy Flanagan at Ed Week.

Flawed, ideological, non-peer-reviewed studies should not rebut decades of anti-retention research is from Scott McLeod.

Civil Rights Data Show Retention Disparities is from Education Week.

Hold Back to Move Forward? Early Grade Retention and Student Misbehavior is a research paper by Umut Özek.

Retention leads to discipline problems in other kids is the title of a new report on research coming out of Duke University. Here’s an excerpt:

When students repeat a grade, it can spell trouble for their classmates, according to a new Duke University-led study of nearly 80,000 middle-schoolers.

In schools with high numbers of grade repeaters , suspensions were more likely to occur across the school community. Discipline problems were also more common among other students, including substance abuse, fighting and classroom disruption.

Public debate typically focuses on how retention affects an individual student’s academic performance, said lead author Clara Muschkin. So she and her colleagues decided to take a wider view and consider how holding students back may affect the school as a whole.

“The decision to retain students has consequences for the whole school community,” said Muschkin, an associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy. “That wider effect is an issue worth considering as we debate this policy.”

Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them is from Ed Week.

Jeb Bush’s reading rule loses ground is from Politico.

Why Los Angeles sends failing students on to the next grade is from The Hechinger Report.

Reading by Third Grade – Or Else is by Robert Slavin.

Another Study Finds The Destructive Effects Of Grade Retention

Big Drop In Students Being Held Back, But Why? is from NPR.



The wisdom of mandatory grade retention is from Brookings.


Grade Repetition in Developing Countries: Repeat to Fail or Second Time’s a Charm? is from The Center For Global Development.

EL Retention Myths and What to Do Instead is by Valentina Gonzalez.

The Effect of Grade Retention on Adult Crime: Evidence from a Test-Based Promotion Policy is a new research paper with these results:

“…we find that being retained in eighth grade has large long-run effects on the likelihood of being convicted of a crime by age 25 and on the number of criminal convictions by age 25.”

Students who repeat a grade experience more bullying, study finds is from Science Daily.

What Does Research Say About Grade Retention? A Few Key Studies to Know is from Ed Week.

Feedback is always welcome.

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