The effects of promotion and retention on the middle school child

Laretta S. Marks


The purpose of this study was to determine the difference in academic achievement of promotional status groups on the criterion variables of reading, mathematics, and total academic achievement as measured by the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS). In addition, the study investigated the relationship among the variables of academic achievement, teachers' perception of retention, the student's race, gender, suspensions and grades retained. The study also sought to provide information to parents, teachers, administrators, and school districts. Data from this study was collected through computerized data files from the schools. Students who had been retained in school for two or more years were selected first, followed by students who had been retained one year, and students who had never been retained. Students were randomly selected using a procedure that selected every fourth student. Once selected, the cumulative records were used to obtain the ITBS scores and other pertinent information related to the study. A two- year period of data collection was used with the stratified sample. Results available from the analysis of data indicated that students who were not retained achieved at a higher rate than did students retained one time and those retained two or more times on each of the variables of reading achievement, mathematics achievement, and total academic achievement. The study also indicated that there was not a difference in the reading and mathematics achievement in relation to suspension rate or gender. Further implications in the study indicated that males and females did not differ in reading and mathematics in any of the promotional status groups. Subsequently, when measured on the variable of total academic achievement, males achieved at a higher rate than females of the students not retained. The study concluded with a survey conducted on classroom teachers and administrators to determine their perception of retention. The findings indicated that classroom teachers perceived that the practice of unlimited retention was the most desirable procedure for poor academic performance. However, administrators felt that retaining students only one time was the most desirable practice.