Outcomes in Grade Retention

Some research shows improvement in the year following grade retention, particularly if additional instruction is provided. However, these gains are invariably lost in two to three years. Comparisons between students retained and students promoted who performed equivalently prior to retention decisions show the promoted students performing better. Further, retention impacts poorly on measures of “social adjustment, attitudes toward school, behavioral outcomes, and attendance." It is a “stronger predictor of delinquency that socioeconomic status, race, or ethnicity,” and is also a strong predictor of drug and alcohol use and teenage pregnancy. Retained students are 2 to 11 times more likely to drop out of school than underachieving but promoted peers.