Third Grade Mandatory Retention

  1. Angie Sullivan: Read-By-Third Grade Begins the Destruction of Young Children in Nevada 6/13/16

  1. The A-Plus Literacy Act Florida 1/7/11

  2. State Superintendent Ignores Research, Advocates for Retention Of Third Graders  1/20/14 Ohio

“....Sadly, Dr. Ross seems to be blind to the fact that mandating the retention of thousands of third graders on an annual basis will only serve to increase the number of high school dropouts, further decreasing the likelihood that we can “ensure that all girls and boys leave our K-12 system with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and jobs”...

  1. ALEC Model Legislation for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee 4/23/14 by Diane Ravitch

ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) is an organization founded in 1973 to promote free-market ideas throughout society. ALEC has about 2,000 members who belong to state legislatures. It is funded by major corporations. Its purpose is to write model legislation that members can bring back to their state, to spread the gospel of ALEC. It supports charters, vouchers, online charters--all forms of privatization. It opposes collective bargaining. It does not believe in due process rights for teachers or any form of job security for public employees. It does not support local control, as it promotes laws that allow state commissions to override decisions by local school boards if they deny charters to private groups.

Among its proposals is the third grade reading guarantee, in which children are flunked if they don't pass the third grade reading test. What this has to do with free-market capitalism is beyond my understanding. It is punitive towards little children, putting more faith in a test than in teachers' judgement. There is no research to support this policy, but we know already that zealots are unimpressed by research or evidence...”

  1. Grade Retention and Promotion: Information and Strategies for Educators/Nat’l Ass. of Schools

  1. 10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention & Other Damaging Policies

by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

  1. States mandating retention:Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. And at least two other states, New Mexico and Mississippi, are also considering third grade retention proposals.

Oh Woe Is Me!!!!!! How can our nation permit such injustice! No wonder crime and violence is on the increase. With retention we are telling our young people they are failures. We destroy their self-image which they can not regain. Instead of retaining the schools need a support system that will give At Risk students extra help right from day one. You say, “Where will the money come from?” Eliminate all the asinine testing! Let the teachers do the assessing. If a student is mentally challenged you do not retain them.

  1. Why the Common Core Standards for Grades K-3 Are Wrong 5/12/14 Diane Ravitch

“... First mistake...ignores the kind of learning that is developmentally appropriate for young children. An example of a developmentally inappropriate Common Core standard for kindergarten is one that requires children to “read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding.” ...

The second mistake is that the CCSS assumes that all children learn at the same rate and in the same way...

Part of the second mistake is that young children are being assessed in ways that make no sense: “The CCSS are measured using frequent and inappropriate assessments – this includes high-stakes tests, standardized tests and computer-administered assessments. States are required to use computer-based tests (such as PARCC) to assess CCSS. This is leading to mandated computer use at an early age and the misallocation of funds to purchase computers and networking systems in school districts that are already underfunded.”

A third mistake was that those who wrote the CCSS did not include anyone knowledgeable about early childhood education:....

Two committees made up of 135 people wrote the standards – and not one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood education professional.”

A fourth mistake was that “There is a lack of research to support the current early childhood CCSS. ...

  1. 6 reasons to reject Common Core K-3 standards — and 6 rules to guide policy   5/2/14

1.  Many of the Kindergarten – 3rd Grade CCSS are developmentally inappropriate, and are not based on well-researched child development knowledge about how young children learn.

“Mapping backwards:”

  1. “list discrete skills, facts and knowledge that do not match how young children develop, think or learn;

  2. require young children to learn facts and skills for which they are not ready;

  3. are often taught by teacher-led, didactic instruction instead of the experiential, play-based activities and learning young children need; 1, 2, 12

  4. devalue the whole child and the importance of social-emotional development, play, art, music, science and physical development.”

2.  Many of the skills mandated by the CCSS erroneously assume that all children develop and learn skills at the same rate and in the same way. child is unique....

3.Early childhood educators did not participate in the development of the standards.

Two committees made up of 135 people wrote the standards – and not one of them was a K-3 classroom teacher or early childhood education professional.”

  1. 4. There is a lack of research to support the current early childhood CCSS.  The standards were not pilot tested and there is no provision for ongoing research or review of their impact on children and on early childhood education...

  1. 5. The standards do not take into account what young children today need when they get to school.  Children need play in school now more than ever. They need teachers who are skilled facilitators of play so the solid foundations can be laid in the early school years for optimal learning in the later years...

  1. 6.The adoption of CCSS falsely implies that making children learn these standards will combat the impact of poverty on development and learning, and create equal educational opportunity for all children...”

6 Principles to Guide Policy


  1. 1. Young children learn through active, direct experiences and play....

  1. 2. Children learn skills and concepts at different times, rates, and paces. 

  1. 3.Young children learn best when their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical selves become highly engaged in the learning process. ..

  1. 4.  Assessments of young children should be observational in nature, ongoing, and connected to curriculum and teaching.  They should take into account the broad-based nature of young children’s learning, not isolated skills, and the natural developmental variation in all areas of young children’s growth and development...

  1. 5.  “The problems of inequality and child  poverty need to be addressed directly....

  1. 6. Quality early childhood education with well-prepared teachers is the best investment a society can make in its future....

A list of 28 experts follows article

            Today, 3/15/16,  my grandson turned my thoughts to all those third graders who are punished via retention because they are not scoring satisfactorily on the standardized test. I cry for them.

My daughter heard sounds coming from her three -year-old son’s bedroom. She went in to check and there he was picture reading Brown Bear Brown Bear. He turned to her and asked, “Mommy, am I right?”  My other three-year-old grandson walked into the house with a book in his hand that he wanted to read to me.

Picture reading is the first step on the road to reading. How many K and Pre K teacher make room in their schedule for “picture reading” or doesn’t the CC allow it? How about dramatizing stories the teacher reads? How many K teachers have “Shared Reading” their students using big books so the children to follow along as he/she slides her marker under the text ? How many K teachers have “Shared Writing”? Modeling is an essential to teaching or doesn’t CC allow it?
Presently our educational system is turned upside down- driven by the “bottom-up approach,” direct approach in lieu of the “top-down“ approach. My grandson illustrated the results of the “top down” approach. Parents and teachers need to be kid watchers and follow their lead at times.

Research such as David Coleman’s in 1966  showed that the family background is the most important variable. Good teaching makes a difference but the family is the biggest influence. Parents /caregivers have to become involved with their children’s education. Parents on welfare can help their children. Libraries are full of books for every child’s needs and wants.

Coleman’s report showed that variations in school quality (as indexed by the usual measures such as per pupil expenditure, size of school library, and so on) showed little association with levels of educational attainment, when students of comparable social backgrounds were compared across schools. (Differences in students' family backgrounds, by comparison, showed a substantial association with achievement.)

Secondly Coleman’s showed that a student's educational attainment was not only related to his or her own family background, but also (less strongly) to the backgrounds of the other students in the school. These findings had clear implications for social engineering: opportunities could best be equalized via strategies of desegregation of schools (for example by busing). They challenged a major plank of Lyndon Johnson's vision for the Great Society; namely, that increased spending on education could rectify social deficits.

Presently the CCSS is driven  by logic and gut feelings. Logic convinces some people that children must begin the task of reading by first learning the names and then the sounds of the alphabet. Then those letters are used to make words, words are used to make sentences, sentences make up paragraphs… That is not how learning takes place.

Good teaching begins with the child’s own words in developing the skill of reading. With the child’s words, we can teach the sounds and letter names- phonics. The child does not need to learn the entire alphabet before he/she begins to read. Each day a new phonetic element is either developed or reinforced utilizing all the senses e.g., writing the letter/word on the arm, in the air, on the floor, on the chalkboard, on the paper until he/she owns the word. Predictable stories, poems, and songs accompanied with vivid illustrations which the student can relate are used as “hooks” or scaffolds to learn a specific letter/ word, skills, and comprehension strategies

How many of the third graders who are retained are given the necessary support and encouragement? The affective realm is missing from the CC. If students are going to achieve, their egos have to be stroked with positive feed back. Nothing fires a drive to achieve than recognition of a task well done. With the right tools and age appropriate tasks, students will reach their potential of achievement. The constructive approach encourages students to take on the challenge of learning because they experience success. The curriculum is well orchestrated by the teachers with the child in mind.
CCSS’s  Behavioral approach is , endless practice, testing, paper and on-line worksheets, and so on at the risk of amping up the “I hate reading” syndrome. That is counterproductive.

The Common Core Standards’ are curriculum centered – they are just interested in facts. But the curriculum and the children are interdependent – two sides of the same coin. If you don’t understand the child and his/her interests, experiences, and abilities the curriculum won’t work – you can’t make the connection. We can’t just be content centered like the CC mandates. Educators must be interested in the prior knowledge, abilities, and experiences. We can’t educate a child from East Cupcake, Idaho the same way as you teach a child in NYC.

  1.     In an article entitled “More NC third graders retained for poor reading”

  2. “...stated that 1 in 7 were retained because “they were not reading well.” The non-English and certain disabilities were exempt...”
    I find it so absurd that a legislative body passes a law about holding back struggling third graders or any student!!!! How dare the ignoramuses take on the role of the informed teachers!
    Michigan was another such state : “House OKs bill to hold back struggling third graders”

    Mississippi retained 5,600 as stated in an article entitled, “As Mississippi delivers bad news to 5,600 third graders, stressed-out parents say there must be a better way”

  4. Retaining 3rd Graders: Child Abuse, Mississippi Style 5/9/15

  1. What a horrendous way to start out one’s academic career!! The powers that be don’t care about the affective realm. They don’t care about the students’ self-image or how important a good self-image is to a child’s success in reading.
    Another problem: I suspect any state with a heavy accent will have a super amount of struggling third graders. After all they have a double task to master while their counterparts in other northern states don’t. They not only have to learn the standard phonics but then the students have to translate the sounds into their language.

  2. Listen to the NYC Police Commissioner, William Bratton; he has to be from Boston. He doesn’t pronounce the R’s. At some point, if the teachers are going to have to adhere to the CC Standards, they too, have a double task.
    How long are parents and educators going to take the back seat and let legislatures and uninformed people in position of power destroy our children?!

  3. dianeravitch says: March 16, 2016 at 12:58 pm

If enough parents opted out of the tests, legislators would listen, because they are next. Parents in NY proved what a powerful message opt out sends if enough parents act.

Third Grade Mandatory Retention
10 Things You Didn't Know About "Mandatory Retention" Laws 7/23/13  “...Sixteen (16) states and the District of Columbia have mandatory retention laws for students failing to meet proficiency standards...”
10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention & Other Damaging Policies Wrightslaw 2015

Janna Siegel Robertson and Pamela Grundy on the problems with Read to Achieve 5/6/13
Janna Siegel Robertson and Pamela Grundy are speaking out  against mandatory retention of third graders!  It truly flies in the face of decades of research" that it is distractive and no good can come from it.
Politics-driven Read to Achieve a path to failure for NC

Saving Students From A Shattered System 12/30/13 
“”Charter, choice, public and private schools are all in the same boat because they are all under the same artificial guidelines.  The only reason to change schools is to get away from those “other kids”.  It takes more than a name change to change education...” Caplee

Retention destroys a child’s self-image and once that is destroyed it is almost impossible to regain it.

Responding with reasons why the Common Core Standards for the primary grades is so devastating. First of all it negates all sound research in the field of literacy.

In researching the number  of states that actually mandate retention of third graders who fail their standardized reading test, I was so disheartened to find out that  14 states mandating retention. How very devastating- destructive, to mandate retention of third graders if they lack adequate learning skills!  
When medical researchers publish a finding, we listen; we had better or most of us would be dead by now. But when brilliant psychologist publish their research it is ignored. Some psychologists compare the destructiveness of retention to that of a death of a parent. 

Everyone who is responsible for implementing such a horrific punishment on our children should be made to experience the same humiliation they are imposing on these children. They mandate that the children read proficiently by third grade yet won't give them to tools to do so. The Common Core thrust into the teachers hands a program that doesn't work; its flawed. 

The philosophy embedded in the Common Core is a modified version of Behaviorism. Starting the Behavioral approach in pre-K will not solve the problem.  For the primary grades Common Core Standards states,  “varied and repeated practice leads to rapid recall and automaticity.” CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.3.1
“Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text,  referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.”             “Closed Reading”  negates the years of research stating the importance of utilizing prior knowledge.
Being able to regurgitate information will be of no use to the students if he/she can’t relate to the information in some way. Furthermore, some people/children have phenomenal memories but others do not. Just like actors on stage need props/cues  to help them remember their lines so do children need cues to retrieve information. Relating the subject matter/curriculum to the students and their background is like using mnemonics not only to help them retrieve information  but more importantly to help them construct meaning and apply the information. This, however, is not in the CC Standards. 
CC limits higher order thinking skills of analyzing and comparing negating the imagination. CC also maintains that children should occasionally read on a level that is too difficult. However, children will regress if under stress - being forced to read on a frustration level.
Presidential advisor Reid Lyon not only designed Reading First but maneuvered the situation to lock out programs anchored in a three-pronged, interactive, Constructivist approach such as Marie Clay’s Reading Recovery. Common Core ignored years of research done by Marie Clay, a world renowned educator.  Marie Clay studied cognitive psychology as did Reid Lyon but Marie Clay went a step farther. Marie Clay developed a wider spectrum of teaching tools. Her three-pronged cueing system went beyond just the phonics and sight vocabulary. She utilized semantics, syntax, along with graphophonics.  Marie Clay’s and other Constructivists focus is on supporting active learners, engaging all their senses, interacting with the the text and responding to the text. She believed in starting with the child and his/her prior knowledge and ending with the child. Common Core uses the "bottom up" approach of phonics. Background knowledge is not developed nor utilized. Children who have an auditory discrimination problem can't learn via the phonetic approach!  So the governors punish them/retain them. How cruel!!!!!!!

Marie Clay with her Constructivists philosophy  believed in giving all the support a child needs so he/she would not make a mistake.  She utilized reasoning skills along with all the senses.  A happy environment, freedom to explore, confidence, a feeling of success, a challenge that can be met, hands on, and modeling were all very important to Marie Clay. She began with the child's own words/sentences.  Marie Clay believed in empowering children by helping them take ownership of what they learned. Common Core is indifferent to the affective realm, to the child’s feelings, and utilizing the child's experiences, instead it has caused the Common Core Syndrome - child abuse.

Further more:
 The powers that be are dooming 8 year olds to life of submission, doubt, and  mistrust in themselves - siphoning  the life out of  them by mandating retention. The powers that be are making false assumptions just like the cosmologist in the Middle Ages saying the earth is flat. Common Core puts the wrong teaching tools into the hands of reading teachers and making the wrong assumptions and consequently, the third graders are being  punished for the sins of adults. 
The Common Core  continues to perpetuated a phonetic based program which,  according to a congressionally mandated study of the reading program used in the No Child Left Behind law  was found to be flawed.( Study of Reading Program Finds a Lack of Progress 11/19/08.)   Starting the phonetic program anchored in the Behavioral approach in pre-K will not solve the problem. It just compounds it because we are giving the students the wrong idea what reading is all about and squelches their interest. Even four year olds want captivating stories - not the contrived sentences fed to them already at Pre K.  

In a document published by nonprofit educational center, CELT, entitled  "Center for Expansion of Language and Thinking" addresses the problem of different dialects in the teaching of phonics. "There is a single spelling across dialects that pronounce words very differently. ..  The pretense of a single set of phonics rules is not only confusing; it damages people's chances for school success. Most standardized reading tests have a section on phonics that asks students to match rhyming words or to identify words with similar sounds. …Out-of-context, uninformed phonics instruction is not only confusing, it makes the learning of phonics harder. And when the rules being taught in out-of-context lessons do not match the learner's own dialect, it is that much more confusing and that much harder to learn. Yet another barrier for far too many children! "
From my observations children who are successful as readers  learned in spite of the Common Core Standards and are successful because they learned what reading is all about from home. Their parents/caregivers value education and read to them, interacted with them, and built up their background knowledge. Parents don't have to be wealthy to support their children's learning at home. 
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is  reading aloud to children. "
Commission on Reading in a Nation of Readers

“You do not have to read every night - just on the nights you eat.”
Dr.Carmelita Williams former president of the NRA 
Marilyn Adams states,“Children’s first grade reading achievement depends most of all on how much they know about reading before they get to school...  The differences in reading potential are shown not to be strongly related to poverty, handedness, dialect, gender, IQ, mental age, or any other such difficult-to-alter circumstances. They are due instead to learning and experience - and specifically to learning and experience with print and print concepts.”     Adams, Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print, 494pp 
No program is going to bring all children - learning disabled, those with emotional and physical problems- on par with the students who were ahead before they began for obvious reasons.  Some people will never be able to run a 4-min. mile or to play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. However, educators must work with the child at his instructional level, where children feel safe enough to learn with all the mistakes that are part of learning, where they can achieve and feel good about themselves. This will not happen to children who, for a variety of reasons, are competing against more advance peers.  
It is not the child's fault if he/she can not read. It is the mandates of the politicians, administration, teachers and the inappropriate reading program. Furthermore, the  assessment is inappropriate. A standardized test will not give the teacher the instructional level of the student. Children should be assessed with an appropriate tool in a quiet, calm setting. When children sit in fear, start crying, vomiting, running to the bathroom the test has already been invalidated. Plus, the standardized test does not give the teachers the instructional level of a child. The teachers' assessment such as  Marie Clay 's Observation Survey, Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark System, or even a running record will inform the teacher.
Albert Einstein stated, “I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture.” 
Children at risk should be given double time with reading instruction from day one. A reading specialist should work in tandem with the classroom teacher working with the children on their instructional level. Instead of all this meaningless standardized testing give schools sufficient reading specialists to help the At Risk students in elementary school working with the At Risk on their instructional level. 
Let their be more story time, dramatizing, role playing, singing, poetry, and finger plays in pre-k- no direct teaching of the alphabet names and sounds and above all no memorizing of sight voc. Words in isolation have no meaning.

If we stopped all this standardized testing we would have the money to provide for the needed reading specialists and smaller class size. We would, furthermore, have more time to devote to the teaching of language arts - reading, speaking, listening, and writing- all which support literacy. Let the teachers’ assessment be sufficient. Teachers’ assessments are far superior than any standardized test. How is it possible to have an unbiased standardized test anyway?!

We must listen to early childhood literacy experts and not to the demands of politicians who have no educational background.

	“As the old saying goes,
"... when injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty.” 

	Grade Retention and Promotion: Information and Strategies for Educators/Nat’l Ass. of Schools

10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention & Other Damaging Policies
by Suzanne Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw

States mandating retention:Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma and Tennessee. And at least two other states, New Mexico and Mississippi, are also considering third grade retention proposals.
14 states mandate retention of third graders who fail their standardized test and two more are considering it.
That includes children who are born in prison and must leave the mother when they reach the age of one. That includes children who are born of addicts and parents who are mentally challenged. That includes children who come to school hungry and children who are second language learners.

 There is no research to support retention but plenty speaking out against retention. There is a correlation between students retained and people behind bars. 

How is a district going to test if a student has adequate reading skills? Through a standardized test? How can an administration retain a student by one score? Once again cheating has surfaced not only on a student level but a superintendent’s level!!!!! Those scores can not be the sole guide or even trusted in some cases.

What are authorities doing about the home environment- the most powerful variable for success?  Retain or not to retain is not the only paradigm available to educators.
Common Core Standards
Common Core History
Psychologically Wrong/ Testing’s Destructiveness
Opting Out Movement
 Charter Schools,TFA,Gulen Movement,
Homework, Homeschooling ...
Economically Wrong/ Pearson Monopoly
Politically Wrong/ Control of Our Schools/Vouchers
 States Reacting to the Common Core/Mercedes’ Research/Gag Order
Parents, Teachers, Principals, Superintendents Reactions
Dr. Ravitch / Blogs of Informed Activists
Destruction of Our Public Education System/Tenure/UnionsReading_Primary_Teachers.html30a._Common_Core_Problematic_on_all_fronts.html30b._Common_Core_History.html30cc._CC_Psychologically_Wrong_Testings_Destructiveness,_VAM,_edTPA.html30.c_CC_Opting_Out_Movement.html30f._CC_Charter_Schools,_TFA,_Gulen_Movement,.html29.Research__Homework,_Early_Childhood_Ed..html30e._Economically_Wrong_Pearson_Conglomerate.html30d._CC__Politically_Wrong__Control_of_Our_Schools_via_Money__NY_Commissioner.html30h._CC_States_Reacting_to_the_CC__Mercedes_Schnieider.html30h._CC_States_Reacting_to_the_CC__Mercedes_Schnieider.html30g._CC__Parents,_Teachers,_Principals_Against_CC.html30i.CC__Dr._Ravitch__Blogs_of_Informed_Activists.html30j._CC__Destruction_of_Public_Ed._Unions_Tenure.html30j._CC__Destruction_of_Public_Ed._Unions_Tenure.html
  1. Should Struggling Students Repeat a Grade? 9/5/13 “...professor Shane Jimerson, PhD., of the University of California in Santa Barbara and nationally respected authority on the topic, the practice may best be described as “educational malpractice.”

  2. Nat’l Ass. of School Psychologist Grade Retention Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes 2002

Retention is Ineffective, Maybe Harmful

“... the single most stressful life event, higher than the loss of  a parent or going blind...”

  Nearly 8,000 Third Graders Fail Reading Exam and Face Possible Retention  Oklahoma

  1. Effective Immediately: Parents, teachers now have say in 3rd grade reading test, students moving to 4th grade 5/12/14

  2. Bill passes giving parents and teachers a voice in 3rd grade reading test  5/12/14 Oklahoma By: NATE ROBSON |

Literacy By Third Grade A Renewed Priority For States 4/17/13

  1. Board considers third grade retention policy - Journal-News 5/12/14

  2. 10 Strategies to Fight Mandatory Retention & Other Damaging

  3. Is Retaining Students in the Early Grades Self-Defeating ... 4/16/12

  4. More states requiring third-grade retention | Chalkbeat  8/20/12

  1. Angie Sullivan: Retaining Students Always Fails, Yet Legislators Love It 3/13/16

“...Besides the national failure of huge retention programs, Nevada schools also manipulate scores by retaining.

...There are CCSD principals who routinely fail ten students per grade level to manipulate scores. How is this done? Identify the students who scored poorly – force disenfranchised parents to sign retention paperwork. Student scores are “hidden” because retained students “do not count” in the scores the next year. This is done at many schools that supposedly showed “growth”. Is this good for kids? No. It is a game played on communities of color to satisfy politicians and a number system the community demands for supposed accountability.

...Currently a Stanford student who was retained in first and second grades three times in Florida – is finally being assessed for a reading disability at my school. This looks like a 10 year receiving instruction with 6 year olds in a first grade classroom – awkward and weird for everyone. It is not socially appropriate and actually disguised the real problem and best remedy. It is easier to punish a voiceless child than work to effectively to determine the real source of the problem.

Grade Retention Doesn’t Work  9/1/97

Can Retention Be Good for a Student?by Philip Bower, NCSP

Grade Retention: A HIstory of Failure

Research on the destruction of


“Flunking kids is one of the most harmful tools in the arsenal of education, says Lorrie Shepard,”

a professor of education at the University of Colorado- Boulder and co-editor of Flunking Grades: Research and Policies of Retention

(London:Falmer, 1989)

Florida’s Retention Policy: Is It Working? 4/29/17

  1. FORCE & FLUNK: Destroying a Child’s Love of Reading—and Their Life Nancy Bailey 10/9/17

  2. 13 Reasons Why Grade Retention is Terrible, and 12 Better Solutions Nancy Bailey 5/14/15

  3. Marion Brady: Would a Child Attempt Suicide Because He Failed the Big Test 8/4/16 “... the three greatest fears of children are:

1) the death of a parent;

2) going blind;

3) failing a grade and being left behind.

Marion Brady is right. The testing regime is insane. It is child abuse.

  1. Russ Walsh: Retention is Child Abuse 3/17/16

  2. Grade Retention: A Fact Sheet Shane Jimerson

  3. Holding Kids Back Doesn’t Help Them 5/20/16

  1. U.S.   KIndergarten Study Sheds Light On Retention,Delayed EntryDebra Viadero2/27/98

  1. Retention, Delays, and Social Promotion Wrightslaw

  1. Grade Retention and Social Promotion NASP

(There is an alternative to retention or social promotion.)

Penny says on Dr. Ravitch’s blog:

July 16, 2015 at 3:50 pm

In my county in FL, they tried this over 10 years ago. The results were that we had special classes for 3rd and 4th graders who had failed and were in 3rd or 4th grade for the 3rd or 4th time. The practice finally ended when the superintendent discovered there were over 200 sixteen year olds in 8th grade, and there were 18,19, and 20 year olds in 10th, 11th and 12th grades. They decided they could no longer hold students back for failing FCAT.”

                           Karen Kelly

in Harvard Education Letter Jan./Feb. 1999,  stated that the retention /promotion debate follows a 7 to 8 year cycle. Once politicians realize the negative side effects, they back off.

When she wrote about retention for Harvard Education Letter in 1999 she stated that politician viewed retention as a remedy.

’99 Harvard Graduate School of Ed. Karen Kelly published and extensive report of the harmfulness of retention.

“Retention vs.Social promotion: Schools Search for Alternatives”

“..research has shown that the practice does more harm than good. Retention harmed students achievement, attendance record, personal adjustment in school, and attitude toward school.... Retaining doesn’t solve the problem......retainees are more likely to drop out of school.....”

In another study in 1992 Grade Retention Doesn’t Work

by Arthur Reynolds, Judy Temple, & Ann McCoy

with students in the Chicago area, poor performers who had been promoted, moved eight months ahead of their peers who had been retained. They found students who repeated a year were 20 to 30 % more likely to drop out of school. Students who were retained twice had a probability of dropping out of nearly 100%.

They site Chicago data revealing that retention actually harmed scholastic development because:

  1. Using arbitrary cut-off scores on standardized tests to determine retention status is not restrictive but holds students alone responsible for what may in fact be caused by poor instruction or disruptive learning environments.

  2. Longitudinal study of 1,539 students of Chicago who were retained did not improve their academic performance in comparison to other students their age or other students in their third grade. Students fell further and further behind.

  3. Contributes to the school dropout problem- 42% increase in early drop out.

  4. “Once a student is retained they usually get no special help with their schooling. They are often placed in low academic tracks only to repeat the previous year’s instruction and ultimately disengage from school.”

  5. An example of a successful alternative program: Chicago public schools’ own Child Parent Center and Expansion Program, a 30-year-old program for preschool to 3rd grade with parent involvement and small classes.

                           Philip Bower

in his research published in the NASP 1998 states:

  1. Retained students rarely make significant academic progress in the retained year.

  2. 1st or 2nd graders who show improvement over non-retained under-achieving peers quickly lose that advantage. The two groups soon perform the same academically; however the retained group will develop measurable deficits in mental health.

  3. A single retention increase one’s probability of dropping out by 21-27%.

  4. The stigma of retention will damage self-concept and create a negative attitude towards school to a much greater degree than most educators will predict beforehand or recognize in later years.

  5. The most common student retained is a non-white male, small of stature, from a low-in-come-family with parents uninvolved in schooling.

  6. “Old for grade” adolescents are at increased risk for substance abuse, earlier age of sexual debut, behavioral problems and emotions distress, including suicidal thoughts.”

              Debrorah Crockett, Pres. NASP 1998

Pres. of the NASP

In same publication Of NASP, Crockett states:

NASP says Social Promotion and Retention are failed p

  1. “Retaining a child in third grade because the child can’t read is child neglect on the part of the school, and so is social promotion.... retention punishes  the victim of poor instruction and that social promotion denies the worth of those children promoted without skills.”

  2. “Research shows that these children fair no better, academically, after being retained. These children more frequently drop out of school, never earning the diploma needed to enter the job market or attend college.”

  3. The cost of effective remediation and support for At Risk children is far less that the cost of an extra year in school. 

Political leaders, in good conscience, must listen to the experts in the field and not follow their gut feelings nor be guided by the results of one test that is too often invalid. Power does not make right.

  1. Grade Retention and Promotion: Information and Strategies for Educators/Nat’l Ass. of Schools 1/2003

  1. Grade Retention and Promotion: Information for Parents


Oklahoma ignores research and still retains third graders. The Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) states that a third-grade student cannot be promoted to the fourth grade if he or she scores unsatisfactory on the reading portion of the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test (OCCT)

Arizona: Move On When Reading

Response :Research has shown over and over again that retaining a student does no good- only harm. When will they ever learn?!!!!!!!!  It is cruel and inhumane to retain!!!!!! And to think standardized tests are used as a guide!!!!! Study after study has shown that there is no standardized test to meet all students'  backgrounds. Plus, using standardized scores encourages cheating on all levels. 

Poor teaching, lack of parental/caregiver support, and classroom environment may be part of the problem but above all the philosophy and methodology utilized are culprits. One of the first things we should do is take the child/student where he/she is at and instruct him at his level. The most obvious way is to individualize the instruction. Individualize doesn't necessarily mean one to one but instructed on his/her level.  Individualizing instruction isn't just going slower or faster. It means dealing with different learning styles, interests and prior knowledge.  

In order to progress in concepts, skills and strategies, the student must be instructed on his instructional level and if that is 12 levels below where his grade level indicates. Forcing a student to read on a frustration level will do harm. He/she WILL REGRESS. The student will develop a poor self esteem and be convinced he/she can't learn. Then the teacher's job is compounded. Instruct on the student's level and great strides can be made. A student reading on an emergent level in third can leap ahead to on grade instructional level in one academic year. I have witnessed it countless times. Nothing succeeds like success. ( On an emergent level a student should be given so much support  that he/she can't make a mistake). Besides being instructed by the classroom teacher, the students at risk should be seen by a reading specialists -daily. All students in the group should be on the same instructional level. Groups of 5-7 in the primary grades should be the limit for at risk students. 

On the pages of this site Guided Reading and Emergent Reader, proven methodology is illustrated for both the emergent reader and the more advanced reader.  Along with a sound methodology and  instructing the student on his instructional level, there has to be PARENTAL/CAREGIVER SUPPORT. Parents need to read to their children daily and discuss the story. Parent/Caregivers need to listen to their children read. If parents can't read, the student should be given a CD or taped story to listen to and follow along. (Often parents will listen to the tapes also in hopes of learning English or to learn to read.) Reading - not filling out work sheets- should be the homework. There are electronic books found on the Internet and  available through their local library if they sign up.  If a teacher wants to check to see if the student actually reads, have the parents sign/initial a sheet each night stating how long their child read. Occasionally students can be asked to illustrate their favorite part. Old classic book report is a great way of killing the desire to read. Guide them in making reports in school. Drilling sight words is a waste of time. Nothing takes the place of reading books on their independent level and listening to stories being read which can be above their instructional level to satisfy their interests.

Taping lessons which introduce new concepts or operation and then burning it on to a CD or DVD is a great way for a student to review at home. For every skill there are bound to be web sites to help reinforce concepts and skills. Those sites need to be available to students.    

All too often intelligence flies out the window when it comes to assigning homework. Much futile work is assigned compounding the work of the teacher. If there is support for the student at home to help understand a concept being taught then progress can be made. If the student has to do something he/she doesn't understand and only ends up reinforcing a misconception it is more than just a waste of time; it is helping him/her to regress.

There will always be students that will  be behind other students because not all student progress at the same rate for many reasons. When a child is retained that means the student will go over the same material same way and possibly same teacher. Assuming he has no disability we have to look at a different approach, maybe different material, different curriculum- teaching the same concepts but using different texts; integrating the curriculum and language arts; and  make it interdisciplinary.   

Teachers need to be enthusiastic about their subject matter and make their teaching come to life at all levels. My children remember well the teachers who were creative. I, too, remember them and am ever grateful  to them for bringing enthusiasm to their classes.  Mary D.

Check out  Achievement Gap/Community Support also check out  Family Reading 

  1. Latest Study on Retention – No New Information by Thomas  /Open Education


Retention: most harmful tool in the arsenal of educators

There is an alternative to retaining and social promotion:

Give the At Risk student double instruction in reading from day one with a reading specialist working in tandem with the classroom teacher.The reading specialist should use a reading program anchored in Mary Clay’s philosophy and methodology- Constructivist approach.

Do not waste time drilling and memorizing phonetic elements in isolation.

Stop all this harmful Standardized testing and use that money to pay for reading specialists.


Alternative: “... tutoring, summer school, or increased parent involvement, as well as offering nongraded instructional programs.  But preventing learning problems before they get started is the optimal and most cost-effective intervention strategy,”                                           Arthur Reynolds, Judy Temple, & Ann McCoy

Virtually all specialists condemn the practice of giving standardized tests to children younger than 8 or 9 years old. We are the most over- tested country in the world. Finland gives one standardized test during their academic career.

“To reduce children to a label is to diminish them as human beings.”

                        Richard Allington

“ Research indicates that parents who are more involved and advocate for their child are less likely to have their child repeat a graded. Parents are clearly a primary influence on early development and educational success.” Shane Jimerson

Rdg.Teacher April 2003

One would think that the following statement by Goodlad was quoted in reaction to CCSS  instead of in 1991