Bad report cards, behavioral issues or difficulty fitting in may all contribute
to your child getting a recommendation to repeat a grade. If students
are struggling, pressuring them to move to a higher grade may exacerbate
the problem. Academic issues, problems outside of school or a lack of
maturity may encourage educators to hold students back on the assumption
that this will allow the child to grow and catch up. Unfortunately, studies
do not back up the colloquial belief that repeating grades is beneficial
When students aren’t coping with the workload or with social responsibilities,
it seems logical to give them some extra time to catch up. However, psychological
studies conducted on students who repeated a grade suggest that this may
have damaging long-term effects on them both socially and academically.
What the Studies Show
A study by the
National Association of School Psychologists showed that students who were held back performed worse than those who
had the same grades and were allowed to graduate. Repeating a grade does
initiate an improvement in grades in the first year, but the improvement
is short-lived and peters out after a year or two.
Holmes and Matthews (1984) reviewed 44 studies that looked at the long-term effects of grade retention
and found that promoted students had higher grades, better personal adjustment
and more positive attitudes toward school than students who had been kept
back a grade.
Long-term studies show that students who were kept back perform worse than
students with similar grades who were moved forward in reading, math and
language skills with reading suffering the most. Not only do these students
experience deteriorating academic performances, they also have higher
instances of social and behavioral issues which increase in frequency
through adolescence and result in a much higher dropout rate.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 2006, students
who drop out are five times more likely to have repeated a grade.
What you can do to Help
If your student is experiencing social or academic loads that are beyond
their capabilities, moving them forward into the next grade unassisted
may only exacerbate the problem. Enlist help in dealing with these issues
so that your child has a support network outside of the school system.
For academic assistance, turn to an
in-home private tutor who is able to find the missing building blocks in your child’s
knowledge and fill these so they have a great foundation to build on.
Ensure that your one-to-one tutor also teaches executive skills; those
vital organizational and study skills that give your child the tools they
need to succeed.
Use the summer to help them to catch up and then monitor their progress
in the new academic year. Get more involved in your child’s school
and form a positive relationship with your teachers. Your teachers are
the very best source for advice on how to help your child and provide
an academically supportive environment where they can learn and grow.
pic by Wellspring Community School