Elementary teachers' perceptions of grade retention

Latrice Shontae Richardson


The purpose of this research study was to examine elementary teachers' perceptions of grade retention. Additionally, the study observed demographic data that explored the differences in elementary teachers' perceptions by (a) geographical location, (b) years of experience, (c) grade level assignments, (d) age, (e) level of education, (f) ethnicity, and (g) influences on perceptions. The participants included 164 elementary teachers from five rural (northern) and five suburban (southern) regions of Mississippi. Since teachers play such a huge role in the classroom, they also play a vital role in grade retention. Teacher decisions can create a successful educational experience for a child. It is believed that teachers often base their attitudes about grade retention on personal experiences rather than other factors such as research. Quantitative data were collected to examine participating teachers' perceptions of grade retention. Data were collected using the Grade Retention Survey which has been used previously in other studies. The instrument consisted of two sections. The first section contained 35 attitudinal statements regarding grade retention, and the second section consisted of demographic information. Data were triangulated and analyzed using SPSS. The study concluded that elementary teachers' perceptions of grade retention remained neutral. Overall, teachers did not strongly favor grade retention nor did they strongly disagree with the practice. However, teachers did firmly support some statements on retention. Teachers strongly agreed that retaining students in primary grades is less traumatic than in intermediate years and that promotion should be based on students' mastery of grade level requirements. Furthermore, it was noticed that there is not a significant difference between the perceptions of elementary teachers and geographical location, years of experience, grade level assignment, age, and level of education. However, a significant difference was discovered between teachers' perceptions and ethnicity. In conclusion, teachers' most influential factor on their beliefs about grade retention was their experience with retained students.