International Education Journal


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Retention and academic achievement research revisited from a United States perspective

Jon Lorence 
Department of Sociology, University of Houston


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Educational researchers in the United States contend that making low-performing students repeat a grade is an ineffective educational practice. This view derives largely from the summary of grade retention research reported by Holmes (1989). A meta-analysis of more recent studies (Jimerson, 2001) also concludes that the practice of grade retention should be abandoned. However, a thorough examination of the published articles within each of these two meta-analyses reveals that many of the individual studies evidence inadequate research designs and faulty conclusions. The overwhelming majority of conclusions from grade retention studies are unwarranted due to the poor quality of research. Overlooked and more recent retention and grade repartition studies suggest that making students repeat a grade may help increase academic achievement. This review contends that research studies do not support the contention that grade retention is always inappropriate. Suggestions for improving future retention studies are offered. 

Grade retention, academic achievement, meta-analysis, faulty conclusions, inadequate research designs, grade repeating


Lorence, J. (2006). Retention and academic achievement research revisited from a United States perspective. International Education Journal, 7 (5), 731-777.

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