Does holding kids back a year help them academically? No. But schools still do it.

Sep 8, 2014 by

It may seem to make sense to hold back for a year a student who can’t read well but a mountain of research shows that it doesn’t actually help. Unfortunately, school reformers don’t seem to care what the research says. Here to discuss this is Paul Thomas, an associate professor of education at Furman University in South Carolina. This appeared on The Conversation.


By Paul Thomas

If you’re an 8-year-old living in Charleston, South Carolina, you’re soon going to need to study extra hard at reading. The state has joined in with a policy trend across the country that links children’s chances of progressing from third to fourth grade with their performance on reading tests.

Back in 2012, 14 states plus the District of Columbia had policies in place that hold students back a year on the basis of their reading ability.

New efforts to reverse the trend, in states such as Oklahoma, remain rare. This is despite research showing that holding children back a grade – known as grade retention – causes more harm than good.

Following Florida

In the United States, holding children back a grade as a key element of reading legislation can be traced to a 2001 program Just Read, Florida. Because of this program, Florida was characterized by the New York Times education writer Motoko Rich as: “One of the pioneers in holding back third graders because of inadequate reading skills.”

via Does holding kids back a year help them academically? No. But schools still do it. – The Washington Post.

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