Monthly Article Archives: September 2006

Up-Dated Research and Reflections about Retention: A Questionable Educational Practice that Continues to FlourishRobert Brooks, Ph.D.

In November, 2002 I devoted my website article to a review of retention, a frequently applied educational practice. I emphasized that although retention is used in schools throughout the United States, research indicates that it is an ineffective strategy, often leading to a negative outcome for those students who have been retained. After the article appeared, many parents and educators wrote to me. Interestingly, most were unaware of the large body of research that existed about this topic. Several educators reported that their school regularly retained students, but they often questioned the efficacy of doing so; they noted both the lack of academic progress shown by retained students as well as the social stigma that many of these students experienced from classmates. Some parents wrote to say that their child’s school had recommended retention, but now that they knew about the retention research, they had serious reservations about accepting this course of action and wanted to explore other strategies to help their children. Several parents and educators who wrote described positive results for their children or students who had been retained. I noticed that positive outcomes seemed most associated with children who had been retained at an early age such

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