So, what should we do? Many students have fallen behind during the coronavirus pandemic. Should these students be retained? No!
Megan Andrew, a sociologist from the University of Notre Dame, conducted a study, where she found that students who were retained a grade in between kindergarten and 5th grade were 60% less likely to graduate from high school than those who had similar grades but were not retained. One of the unique features of this study is that she compared the students who were retained with the students who were also failing but not retained. She studied more than 37,000 students across the United States and matched students of similar family backgrounds, IQs, and cognitive skills.
We have over 40 years of research showing the harms of retention. Researchers have stated:
- "Most children do not 'catch up' when held back.
- "Although some retained students do better at first, these children often fall behind again in later grades.
- "Retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout; holding a child back twice makes dropping out of school 90% certain."
The researchers went on to say,
“The most notable academic deficit for retained students is in reading…. Students who are unprepared in reading have a 15% chance of succeeding in math and a 1% chance of succeeding in science, while students who are good readers have a 67% chance of succeeding in math and a 32% chance in science.”
So, what should we do? Focus on reading. Focus on teaching reading correctly, using a teaching method that actually works. We have 8 years of research showing that vowel clustering works with students who failed with phonics and balanced literacy.
Don’t retain students. Teach them to read instead.