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What Works for Promotion to Next Grade?

Posted March 11, 2018 in News

As we enter the last quarter of the 2017-18 school year, NCECF is excited to feature the final What Works for Third Grade Reading working paper:  What Works for Promotion to the Next Grade? The resource is one of 12 new working papers that offer research-based policy, practice and program options to states and communities working to improve third grade reading proficiency.

The Grade Promotion brief considers why promotion to the next grade matters for third grade reading proficiency, outlines the connection with other factors that impact early literacy, and highlights options that have been shown to increase rates of grade promotion.

Grade retention is requiring that a student re-enroll in the same grade for a second year. As of October 2015, schools in 20 states could retain third graders who were not reading on grade level. In 16 of those states, including North Carolina, retention for such students was required.1

In addition, grade retention may be recommended by teachers when a student demonstrates:

  • Developmental delays
  • Behavioral challenges
  • Lack of motivation to learn2

There is not yet a national consensus on whether grade retention is helpful or harmful.3

Negative effects of retention can include:

  • Stigmatizing children in the eyes of teachers and/or other students4
  • Retained children believing that they are not capable5
  • Reducing children’s engagement in school6
  • Worsening school performance7
  • Increasing the likelihood of school drop out8
  • Increasing racial disparities in educational outcomes9

On the other hand, the alternative to retention does not improve students’ educational success.10 Social promotion means passing a student on to the next grade level, even if he or she has not met grade level expectations.11 Social promotion pushes children into learning contexts they may not be ready for academically.12

What Works for Third Grade Reading is a collection of 12 working papers that address whole-child, birth-to-age-eight factors that support children’s optimal development and improve reading proficiency. The resource was produced by the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, in collaboration with BEST NC, to support the work of the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways) initiative.

Listen to a webinar that provides an overview of the working papers and shares other Pathways resources that may assist communities in improving outcomes for young children.

Pathways is bringing together diverse leaders working across disciplines, sectors, systems, and political ideologies to define a common vision, shared measures of success and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development beginning at birth. Pathways is an initiative of the NC Early Childhood Foundation in collaboration with NC Child, the North Carolina Partner

13rd Grade Reading Retention: A Closer Look at North Carolina’s Literacy Law. (2015). Ed Week. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/10/3rd_grade_reading_retention_closer_look_north_carolina_literacy_law.html

2Essential Questions about Grade Retention, (2016). About Education. Retrieved from: http://teaching.about.com/od/pd/a/School-Retention.htm

3Cannon, J. and Lipscomb, S. (2011). Early Grade Retention and Student Success: Evidence from Los Angeles. Public Policy Institute for California. Retrieved from http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/report/R_311JCR.pdf

4The scarring effects of primary grade retention?, op cit.

5The scarring effects of primary grade retention?, op cit.

6The scarring effects of primary grade retention?, op cit.

7The scarring effects of primary grade retention?, op cit.

8Andrew, M. 2014. The scarring effects of primary grade retention? A study of cumulative advantage in the educational career. Social Forces 93(2) 653-685. Oxford University Press.

9Andrew, M. 2014. The scarring effects of primary grade retention? A study of cumulative advantage in the educational career. Social Forces 93(2) 653-685. Oxford University Press.

10Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion. (2003). National Association for School Psychologists. Retrieved from: http://www.cdl.org/articles/position-statement-on-student-grade-retention-and-social-promotion/

11Hernandez-Tutop, J. (2012). Social Promotion or Grade Repetition: What’s Best for the 21st Century Student, ERIC Education Archives. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED532287.pdf

12Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion, op cit.

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