Thursday, March 20, 2008

Test-Based Retention

Leonie Haimson responded to our previous post on social promotion (feh) with a very perceptive point:

Norm and others: you really ought not to refer to the administration’s policies as opposing social promotion; call it test-based grade retention. No one supports social promotion, and by calling it that, you’ve already bought into the Mayor’s line.

She also did the research I am too lazy to do in relation to the Alexander Russo piece on social- er – test-based retention that I referred to in the posting.

Leonie writes:

Alex Russo’s article is a bit out of date – he refers to Brian Jacob et al as supporters of this policy; more recently he has shown significantly increased dropout rates for those kids retained, as has the Chicago Consortium.

For links to the more recent Jacob research see eduwonkette (here).

For links to the Chicago studies, see our blog at On the fourth anniversary of the Monday night massacre; what have they learned?

Since then, there have been two authoritative studies, both conclusively showing that holding back kids hurts rather than helps them . See the Chicago Consortium report called
Ending Social Promotion: The Effects of Retention, which shows that third graders who were held back did no better than those who were promoted; and that sixth graders who were held back did even worse.

Even more pointedly, check out Ending Social Promotion: Dropout Rates in Chicago after Implementation of the Eighth-Grade Promotion Gate which concludes that eighth grade students who were retained increased their likelihood of dropping out by 29%.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters

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