History of Grade Retention

During the 1970s, grade retention fell into disrepute, and the practice of Social promotion gained prominence. Social promotion is the promoting of under performing students under the principle that maintaining with their peer group is important to success. This trend reversed in the 1980s as concern about academic standards rose. Since then the practice of grade retention has dramatically increased.

The implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act has resulted in an upsurge in the retention of children who score poorly on achievement tests. The practice of making retention decisions on the basis of the results of a single test — called “high-stakes testing” — is widely condemned in scientific literature. Test authors generally advise that their tests are not adequate for high-stakes decisions.