Posts Tagged ‘education’

Here at Applied Behavioral Strategies, our mission is to improve the quality of life through effective intervention. One way we hope to do that is by reviewing research articles for our readers. Today‚Äôs article is titled, “Meta-analysis of Grade Retention Research:Implications for Practice in the 21st Century”. Shane Jimerson authored the article and School Psychology Review published it in 2001 (Volume 30, No. 3 pages 420-437). You may read the entire article yourself here.

Purpose of the Study

Researchers have been studying grade retention for many years. However, recently, the quality of studies has improved (e.g., more rigorous experimental designs, comparison groups). So, the purpose of the study was to review all the studies on grade retention between 1990 and 1999. The author completed a meta-analysis of the studies to better inform educators and parents about the effects of grade retention.

Research Questions

The author asked a number of research questions including:

(a) In what grade were the students retained and at what age/grade were the outcomes examined?

(b) What were the academic achievement outcomes of retained children versus promoted children?

(c) What were the social-emotional and behavioral outcomes of retained students versus promoted children?

Methodology (How the Study was Completed)

The author searched for research studies on the effects and outcomes of grade retention. Over 400 studies were found. The author identified studies that met the following inclusionary criteria:

(a) research must have been presented in a professional publication;

(b) study results must have addressed the efficacy of grade retention (i.e., achievement, social-emotional, or other);

(c) study must have included a comparison group of promoted students;

(d) research must have been published between 1990 and 1999

Twenty studies met the criteria and were analyzed for the meta-analysis.

The author and two research assistants coded the studies. Meta analyses were completed using the effect sizes reported by study authors. For our readers with little experience and training in research, this means that the author and research assistants read the previously published studies and entered information into a spreadsheet. They also took the results from the previous studies and combined them with all the other study results to get an average outcome across studies.


Groups Studied

The retained students and the promoted students were matched on several variables including academic achievement, IQ, gender, SES, and social-emotional adjustment). Essentially, all the studies made sure that both groups were equal except for one variable: retention or promotion.

Grade of Retention and Grade of Outcome

The majority of the studies (N=14 out of 20) included students that were retained in kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade. The remaining six studies included students retained K through 8th grade. Many studies (14 out of 20) reported outcomes over a series of years. Only 6 studies reported outcomes in just one year.

Academic Outcomes

All of the data from the 20 studies resulted in 175 different academic outcomes for students. Of those 175 outcomes, only 9 favored retained students while 82 outcomes favored promoted students. 84 outcomes showed no difference between retained and promoted students.

More specifically, the promoted group of students performed higher than retained students in areas of language arts, reading, math, composite scores, and grade point average.

Social-Emotional Adjustment

All of the data from the 16 studies that examined social-emotional adjustment resulted in 148 outcomes. Of those, 8 favored the retained students and 13 favored the promoted students. 127 of those showed no differences between groups.

Author Recommendations

The authors of the 20 studies favored either retention or promotion and these results were analyzed. Authors from 4 studies recommended grade retention while authors from 16 studies recommended against grade retention.

Authors from the 4 studies recommending retention emphasized that remedial strategies in addition to grade retention is necessary. Grade retention alone is not enough.


The author of the meta analysis concludes with a few recommendations for educators and school psychologists.

  1. First, he stressed the importance of utilizing remedial strategies to support children who are struggling.
  2. Second, he encouraged educators and educational researchers to study the long-term effects of grade retention, particularly in light of other research linking grade retention to higher rates of high school drop out.
  3. Third, he encouraged school psychologists to explore educational alternatives and to disseminate research to parents and teachers to that teams make informed decisions regarding grade retention.
  4. Finally, he recommended that educators consider using interventions that have been proven effective through special education research. These include: mnemonic strategies, enhancing reading comprehension, behavior modification, direct instruction, cognitive behavior modification, formative evaluation, and early intervention.

What are things that you considered when deciding to retain or promote your child? Teachers, behavior analysts, what variables did you consider? What interventions did you try first?

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If you have stopped by because the title sounded enticing and you were really looking forward to some hearty discussion about evidence-based practices, you will have to come back another day. You know as readers that we are die-hard evidence-based girls. None the less, today’s topic is actually about parental responsibility of keeping teachers up to date on family matters.

Besides us, as parents, teachers spend more time with our children than any other person in our children’s life. Wow. That is a lot of time. Because of this, teachers may be the first to notice subtle changes in our children’s behaviors, emotions, learning, and friendships.

We, as parents, need to keep teachers informed about events in our children’s lives that may impact their performance at school. We are not suggesting that you air your dirty laundry with your child’s teacher. Instead, we are suggesting that you keep her apprised of serious events.

As adults, we process information differently than children. We have a series of life events, education, and experiences that have formed the way we process information. What may seem like an everyday activity, may be a source of stress for a young child who is still figuring out the world. Factor in hormonal changes that occur with adolescence and your child could have a serious case of the blues at school.

Serious Illness in the Family or Friendship Circle

Illnesses such as cancer are scary for all of us but it is especially scary for children. If you have a friend or family member who is fighting cancer, your child may fear that he/she will catch it. They may begin thinking about death and have questions about the future. Hopefully, you have held those discussions at home. Either way, your child is probably thinking about it.

Change of Living Conditions

As parents, we are good about telling school staff when we move. However, what if the conditions in the home change? What if a relative is moving in for an extended period of time due to a loss of a job? What if the children changed rooms? What if a parent is out of the home to go care for a sick family member? All of these things sound simple for us as adults, but children may not handle the change so easily.

Loss of a Relative

The loss of a cousin, great-aunt, or other distant relative may not result in a cross-country trip to the funeral. Thus, your child’s teacher is most likely unaware of the incident. However, your child is. With the invention of cell phones, many of us have adult conversations all day long when our children are within an earshot of us. They know when these events happen, even if we don’t directly share the information with them.

Loss of a Pet

You know that goldfish that you have been secretly wishing would die? Well even though your child hasn’t fed it, spoken to it, or even looked at it in months, she will fall apart when it’s gone. Endearment for pets is not just limited to living pets. Some children form close bonds with stuffed animals. If one gets a “boo-boo”, it could cause stress for your little one.

New Pregnancy

We get that you were not planning a pregnancy or that you don’t want the world to know until it is a safer time. However, your little one has probably already picked up on the vibes or even overheard conversations. Nothing is more confusing for children than the age-old question “where do babies come from?” So, while you may want to keep it a secret, it is probably best that your child’s teacher know that you are pregnant. That is far better than her assuming that you are “sick” from too many cocktails the previous night.

Pending Divorce or Separation

No parent wants the neighborhood that things on the home front have fallen apart. However, your child’s teacher needs to know that a separation or divorce is on the horizon. Your child may handle the news when you present it but she may show her feelings differently at school.

These topics are just a few of the things you should share with your child’s teacher. School staff, including your child’s teacher, have received training on how to handle confidential information. Privacy laws prevent your family’s issues from becoming fodder for school gossip. Additionally, schools have a number of different staff available who can assist your child in times of need (e.g., school psychologist, school social worker, and school counselor). However, these trained personnel cannot help if they do not know.

Thus, be sure to keep your child’s teacher in the know so he/she can help your child adjust to life events.

This post will be linked up over at Yeah Write. Go check out all the other posts that have linked up.

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