Essay The Dichotomy of Outcomes Between Short Term and Long Term Effects of Retained Students

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The Dichotomy of Outcomes Between Short Term and Long Term Effects of Retained Students


Amanda West

University of Texas at Dallas


The Dichotomy of Outcomes Between Short Term and Long Term Effects on Retained Students
A mother’s first instinctual reaction to learning that a child will repeat a grade is usually negative in nature. Naturally, a web of questions arises in relation to the overall well-being of the child. How will my child cope socially, emotionally, academically over the long and short term? More scientists and researchers are asking these same questions as well as the question: Is this the best solution? Increasingly, underachieving children that score poorly on standardized or achievement tests are held back, or have to repeat an academic year of school. Grade repetition, most commonly occurs during the first grade year when children are between the ages of five and seven years old. This common educational practice, aimed to remedy the failing student, has educational psychologists and other professionals questioning the academic effectiveness and social detriment to the child long term. The studies find that the majority of students retained are Hispanic males that are economically disadvantaged due to lower household income levels.


Educational psychologists, school psychologists, and sociologists debate the effectiveness and outcome of the ongoing yet controversial educational trend of grade repetition. The previous protocol was social promotion, which advances the student alongside the peers despite satisfactory performance. Advocates for social promotion believe this will strengthen the student’s self-esteem by keeping them with their same aged peers. However, in 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed. The NCLB act mandates state standardized testing for students annually under the same conditions for all. The act also requires each state to provide highly qualified teachers for all students which then creates a measure of accountability for the schools due to their state funding. More importantly, the NCLB requires that students must score and exhibit mastery at a certain level before they can be promoted to the next grade. This has led to the popularity of grade repetition despite all of the negative evidence reported. Although grade repetition is designed and intended to benefit the student’s success, scientists find that the long term effects are unfavorable and possibly harmful. The retention does prove to boost the performance initially, but the benefits recede within a year and are completely gone by the fifth grade. Grade

repetition is an unsuccessful educational tactic that causes long term academic, social, and self-esteem issues based upon post retention academic testing results and testimonies directly provided by the retained students.
Moser, S. E., West, S. G., & Hughes, J. N. (2012) compared the effects of first grade students impacted by grade repetition and promotion by analyzing math and reading test scores at the state level. Psychometrics includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement. These multiethnic, low performing students had to meet a certain criteria to be eligible to participate in this longitudinal study. All cohorts had to score below average on the state standardized testing. The English or Spanish speaking student could not have previously received any special education instruction and could not have been a subject of grade repetition in the past. Of the 1200 students eligible to participate, 65% accepted. Qualifiers showed no pertinent contrasts regarding demographic, social or academic qualities. However, more than half were eligible for free or reduced lunches. Over half of the participants in the study were male. The Hispanic and white non-Hispanic children combined yielded 71 percent of the group. African Americans

made up…