Study warns about holding pupils back

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When students fail, holding them back a year might cause more harm than good, according to a recent study by a Clemson University researcher.

There is an even greater concern for black students, who are retained at a higher rate because of the existing achievement gap, said Cindy Roper, the research and planning administrator of Clemson's Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education.

"States are under tremendous pressure to produce results and, given the widespread belief in its effectiveness, holding a child back a grade often seems like a logical step," Ms. Roper said in an e-mail. "However, I recommend that states re-evaluate these polices by looking carefully at the research on grade retention."

For instance, grade retention is a strong predictor of whether a student will drop out of school, she said. That's largely because students receive the same instruction on the second go-round as they did the first without any additional support.

"Retaining students without utilizing new approaches to teaching and learning amounts to doing the same thing over again while expecting different results," Ms. Roper said. "Appropriate interventions after retention may increase the likelihood of success, but simply repeating a grade does not appear to be an effective strategy."

There has long been a debate about the effectiveness of retention, but resources are now becoming available to assist students who are retained, said Carol Rountree, Richmond County's director of student services.

"Retention in and of itself doesn't do anything," she said.

But initiatives such as the Early Intervention Program are designed to give previously unsuccessful elementary school students a better chance at catching up with classmates, she said. Additional classes are offered in middle and high school also.

In Columbia County, a committee reviews each case in which a student fails to meet the requirement of the promotion policy, said Lauren Williams, the associate superintendent of student learning.

In these cases, the committee considers whether promotion or retention is to the student's benefit.

Either way, additional support is given to enable the student to catch up and get back on track, Ms. Williams said.

Repeating a grade can also be a bad idea because it can prove traumatic to students, Ms. Roper said. She referred to a 2005 study that found repeating a grade and the death of a parent to be the two most stressful events in an elementary school pupil's life.

"It's difficult to see how something that children consider so traumatic can be effective in increasing academic performance," she said.

There are times when a student should repeat a grade, but the best approach should be to prevent a student from failing in the first place, Ms. Roper said.

Preventative measures are also the most cost-effective solution. She cited a 2005 Duke University report that put the cost of retaining students at $18 billion in addition to the social costs associated with high dropout rates, unemployment and welfare expenses.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

More Black Students Held Back

A Clemson University study found that black students are retained at a higher rate than white students. The same is true locally. Statewide, black students are nearly twice as likely as white students to be held back, although there are fewer black students enrolled in Georgia schools.



RETAINED ENROLLED
Blacks Whites Blacks Whites
Richmond County 3,693 741 23,551 6,940
Columbia County 421 1,028 3,684 16,289
McDuffie County 313 156 2,111 1,952
Burke County 404 129 3,135 1,403
Georgia 83,484 44,628 620,892 753,607

Sources: The Georgia Department of Education and The Augusta Chronicle's analysis of department data

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GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 01/10/09 - 03:48 am
0
0
Studies have shown (insert a

Studies have shown (insert a break here). Aw shucks, just pass ALL of the slackers ahead to the next grade, and the next; and on and on until the end of their senior year; then give them a high school diploma. Let the employers that hire them sort out the chaff. At least, the public schools can take credit for keeping the losers off the streets for a few years before they are turned loose on society. Bah! GGpap.

NEone
6
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NEone 01/10/09 - 05:02 am
0
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Insanity: Repeating the same

Insanity: Repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results. It makes sense that if the teaching methods are the same, and the student is the same, the results will be the same. Why would we expect anything else? GGpap: Your assumption that kids who don't perform well in school are just losers is one of the reasons Augusta doesn't move forward.

bone
23
Points
bone 01/10/09 - 06:29 am
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NEone, if you had any idea of

NEone, if you had any idea of the measures taken to ensure that losers / slackers get assistance above and beyond the classroom, especially at middle school, then you wouldn't rise to their defense. retention should be strike one; a second failure should result in removal from general education and enrollment in a specialized curriculum that emphasizes job skills or other useful courses of study. as much as we may want square pegs to fit in round holes, scholastic success - defined as reading, writing, & arithmetic - is just not guaranteed for everyone. why we insist on continuing to believe liberal arts education is a one-size-fits-all solution is beyond me.

GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 01/10/09 - 06:31 am
0
0
NEone, in today's world,

NEone, in today's world, where many "teachers" grade A's, B's, and C's for inferior performance, how difficult is it for a student to at least receive a D-, which is a "passing" grade? Students that do not merit at least a D- are indeed losers, and they should be encouraged to drop out in order to make room for those that have an honest desire to learn. I do not, nor have I ever, accepted a D- grade as a passing grade in any subject offered in a public school classroom. It is a grade that is assigned by a gutless teacher that doesn't wish to see the student in his/her classroom again next year, or suffer the heat that an irate parent would inflict if the student was given an honest grade of "F." I refuse to believe that public schools must become remedial institutions for youngsters that neither have the desire or parental support for achieving at least minimal success in school. And, NEone, I don't assume about losers in the school setting, I've had first hand experience in observing the losers that disrupt the learning process for those that prefer to succeed in education. GGpap.

GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 01/10/09 - 06:43 am
0
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Bone, you are absolutely

Bone, you are absolutely correct. Your response, "enrollment in a specialized curriculum that emphasizes job skills," is perhaps a kindlier suggestion than mine (which would advocate encouraging the non-achiever to drop out.). Of course, I have no experience in a public school system that would have the funds necessary for creating a specialized curriculum for students failing in academic studies. Good point, sir or madam. GGpap.

bone
23
Points
bone 01/10/09 - 07:15 am
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the odd thing, GGpap, is

the odd thing, GGpap, is public schools are charged with providing an "adequate" education for students; how can we think that a technical education isn't adequate / appropriate for students who can't/won't learn scholastic skills? columbia county considered the idea of a technical high school but instead chose to build grovetown high. great job, CCBOE, in perpetuating the cycle of failure.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 01/10/09 - 07:48 am
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The goofy concept referenced

The goofy concept referenced in this article is not new and has been effect since the mid 70s. It plays a big part of the dumbing down America. Holding a child back because they didn't or wouldn't learn is not "doing the same thing and expecting different results" because the child has been exposed to the material once and is aware of what will happen if some effort isn't applied to learning the requisite material to move to the next level of learning. Refusing to learn is a different issue and that child needs to be removed from those who wish to learn so as not to be a disruption.

Martinez
154
Points
Martinez 01/10/09 - 08:51 am
0
0
Ok so studies show retained

Ok so studies show retained students experience stress and a highier tendency to drop out later. Where is the study to show what happens to those students who are socially promoted when in fact they have not mastered the objectives of the prior grade. How stressful is it to continue receiving instruction on a subjects you haven't or maybe can't grasp? How much time does that next teacher have to take away from all other students to help catch one up? How much does the next grade level get dumbed down to try to accomodate that one student? How many otherwise bright and successful students get bored with the pace of the next level required to accomodate that one? We have a simple choice, we can either education those who work hard and want it or we can dumb everything down to include those who don't.

grammar police
1
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grammar police 01/10/09 - 09:42 am
0
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Another consideration

Another consideration (especially in middle school) - it is NEVER a good idea to have a 13-year-old in a class with kids who are 10,11,12.

NEone
6
Points
NEone 01/10/09 - 10:05 am
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Y'all are assuming: 1. That

Y'all are assuming: 1. That I have no idea what I'm talking about (wrong--I've been in education fields for about 15 years), and 2. that repetition will produce different results. Just b/c a kid has heard it before doesn't mean it will stick the next time. The article said "students receive the same instruction on the second go-round as they did the first without any additional support." That's insanity. I'm NOT saying don't retain kids who are failing. I am saying with different learning styles and abilities, maybe something in the teaching methodology might need an adjustment.

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 01/10/09 - 10:14 am
0
0
I think you could merge a

I think you could merge a couple of ideas. First take a long look at why the student failed. Assuming 70 is still the pass/fail point, lets say the kid did well in some subjects, even an 85, but failed a couple in the high 60's causing the retention in grade. Then you have something to work with. Put this child in a special curriculum class where a small amount of time will be spent on the areas where he barely failed, then move him on to advanced work to put him back at grade level. He can then be returned ro mainstream with his peers and the trauma is ended. If on the other hand the child is failing most subjects, not completing assignments, and is a disruption, indicating either an inability or lack of desire to learn, start teaching a trade where by this child can support his family. Many businesses would most likely support this type of vocational training.

Little Lamb
45763
Points
Little Lamb 01/10/09 - 10:26 am
0
0
I think we should ENCOURAGE

I think we should ENCOURAGE non-performing students to drop out. If holding them back a couple of years increases the drop out percentages, I'm all for holding them back.

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 01/10/09 - 10:28 am
0
0
Just what business would want

Just what business would want someone who is a disruption...lack of ability..no desire to learn???? First if it is a behavior problem ...it usually starts in middle school...perfectly good students turn "bad" while in middle school...this "middle" concept has been wrong from the beginning keep the 10-12 year olds in Elem. where they belong and you will see a difference.

DMac_357
1
Points
DMac_357 01/10/09 - 11:01 am
0
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GGpap: Not everyone who can't

GGpap: Not everyone who can't make the grade are losers. I hope you're not advocating that a child in elementary or middle school who's not making the grade drop out. Where would that child go and what would they do? We've got to figure out a way to reach those kids until they are old enough to make their own decision to drop out and that's somewhere in HS years. We shouldn't give students the choice whether they are going to attend summer school. If they fail, it should be mandatory for them to attend so that don't fall behind their peers. Maybe in summer school, they can get more face time with the teacher. We also need to get those parents involved since that wasn't mentioned anywhere in the story.

Billy Idol
0
Points
Billy Idol 01/10/09 - 11:06 am
0
0
What the hell does this have

What the hell does this have to do with race? If you are a sorry parent and your kid is stupid it has nothing to do with color! Unless someone wants to argue that certain kids don't have the mental capacity to learn basic education. The assignments REQUIRE parental involvement. I agree they need a tool to get parents involved; however, those that don't care still don't, and their child is still left behind.

YoDaddy
0
Points
YoDaddy 01/10/09 - 11:10 am
0
0
"Repeating a grade can also

"Repeating a grade can also be a bad idea because it can prove traumatic to students, Ms. Roper said. It's difficult to see how something that children consider so traumatic can be effective in increasing academic performance," she said. - Well, then they should study and pay attention in school. The threat of failing a grade with the resulting punushment was enough to get me to pass. Psychobabble bullcrap!!

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/10/09 - 11:13 am
0
0
I looked on the RCBOE web

I looked on the RCBOE web site and didn't see any of the additional resources that Ms Rountree. If we have new programs and resources, why aren't they being identified? It looks like her passing comment was just that, a passing comment. BTW when is she going to worry about the lack of math text books at A.R.Johnson. In case she didn't know there are a lot of students being left in the dust because of the lack of administration on the RCBOE and the lack of oversight by elected officials.

Tujeez1
0
Points
Tujeez1 01/10/09 - 11:20 am
0
0
I Believe that all children

I Believe that all children CAN learn the basics and achieve success. It takes motivation, and motivation is a hard seed to plant in some children. I see children that can play the bejeesus out of a video game but can't remember their lessons. I know some will scream "Helter Skelter" BUT, I think the major minds in education need to look into subliminal learning(may sound kooky) but this MAY be a way to reach some problem minds. NOW I am not advocating brainwashing kids. I think that massive studies should preclude these techniques being applied, but facing scores of uneducated dependents in society, the pros may just outweigh the cons. I had though of "learning" video games (like V-smile) 20 years ago. I have seen advertisements for a program that teaches toddlers to read. If we (all of us) could get these children reading before the ridicule of peers comes into play, we might just see an advancement in motivation and achievement. Anything is better than throwing children away by labeling them "losers". I will admit that there are some children that may be unreachable, but that number should be low. Education HAS to be REWARDING, and that reward cannot be a job at Mickey D's.

Billy Idol
0
Points
Billy Idol 01/10/09 - 11:22 am
0
0
Tujeez, I also believe all

Tujeez, I also believe all children have the same mental capacity. I think there aren't enough parents involved involved in the school work. I would also argue that a single parent is going to have difficulty assisting their children if they have more than one child or work late evenings.

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 01/10/09 - 11:47 am
0
0
"Retention in and of itself
Unpublished

"Retention in and of itself doesn't do anything." Really? I'd like to see a comprehensive study of those who were "promoted" and what the results were when they were "promoted." A high school diploma means almost nothing anymore. The truth is, school is not for everyone. I agree with bone, failing students should be placed in a school where they can learn a trade. They don't need to know advanced Algebra or Shakespeare if they're going to be driving a truck or something -and if they mature and find out later they want an education, so be it. Educators spend MOST of their time and energy trying to "make interventions" and "differentiate instruction" for students who just flat out do not care about learning anything. Students who WANT to learn and become educated are mostly ignored.

jack
10
Points
jack 01/10/09 - 12:13 pm
0
0
Bone, I agree with you

Bone, I agree with you wholeheartedly. When I attended HS, we had a choice of three curricula-college prep, business, and shop. Shop was for those who did not have what it took in a regular curricum and offered carpenty, auto and machine operation. Business was for those who knew they wern't goiing to college and taught typing, book keeping and old fashion short hand.. Seemed to work in my day so why not now?

Tujeez1
0
Points
Tujeez1 01/10/09 - 12:13 pm
0
0
All of us need to sit back

All of us need to sit back and take a deep breath. Now that our brains are better oxygenated, look at what we're saying. The next time you see a group of children, do this. Look at each one and quietly to yourself make an evaluation of each one. Decide which one looks like they'll become a doctor, lawyer, concert musician, physicist, engineer, politician, which one will be president of their senior class, valedictorian, who'll succeed, who'll fail, who'll just get by. It's not easy choosing, and rightly so, but their future may well be in our hands. Groom children with praise, nurture them with kindness, foster them with hope and discipline them with love. Inspire in them the dreams of tomorrow, for they are our tomorrows, restless, eternal and young.

142
Points
Dan White 01/10/09 - 12:14 pm
0
0
As a former teacher, I never

As a former teacher, I never failed a student. I always found that the A kids make A's, the F kids made F's and there was not a lot to change that. By the time they reached me in the 8th grade, if they couldn't read and comprehend what they read, there was not a lot I could do to change that even though I tried. A kid who fails one grade has a 50% chance of dropping out. If he/she fails two times, the chance of dropping out increases to 75%. Kids who had been retrained before they got to me were nothing but trouble, and who can blame them? I say pass them through and in high school, give them a technical education instead of a classical education that requires history, English, science, and all the rest of the stuff that serves no purpose in preparing them for a job. In Europe, they do this so that when a student reaches 18, he/she is prepared to go into the job force with a technical education if they didn't cut the mustard in a classical education. Our system wants everyone to go to college and not all students have the desire to go to college.

142
Points
Dan White 01/10/09 - 12:19 pm
0
0
The Georgia CRCT tests are a

The Georgia CRCT tests are a joke. Kids are supposed to pass the test before advancing to the next grade even if their report card shows they passed enough subjects to advance to the next grade. But no, exceptions are made. Just read about Lauren Williams in this article. Each failed child gets a review from a committee and most of the time, the committee puts them up. So why have the CRCT? It's a waste of tax payer money and in these days when state revenues are failing, eliminating these expensive tests and putting the savings into the classroom to keep student - teacher ratios at their current levels should be implemented. Instead, their will be more students per teacher next year thanks to our "brilliant" bankrupt (she can't even manage her own personal finances) State Superintendent, Cathy Cox. I can't wait to vote her out!

I4PUTT
5
Points
I4PUTT 01/10/09 - 12:21 pm
0
0
karma, many kids who aren't

karma, many kids who aren't successful in the classroom act out because they are unhappy, bored and feel like a failure, but....given the chance to learn things that hold their interest changes their behavior. Your idea of labeling everything as a behavior problem has worked well. That's why prisons have such a great success rate. Businesses would not want someone who is disruptive or who has no desire to learn. But many of these kids make excellent, productive workers in trade specialties.

corgimom
32125
Points
corgimom 01/10/09 - 12:30 pm
0
0
My son was held back in first

My son was held back in first grade. He was immature, had previous developmental delays, and while he tested gifted, just didn't have the maturity to do what he needed to do. I have never regretted holding him back; it was the right thing to do and after I did it, school was much easier for him and he was right where he needed to be socially. He had always sought out younger kids to play with and that's who he was comfortable with. Social maturity has a tremendous impact on school success and it's something that is too often ignored.

142
Points
Dan White 01/10/09 - 12:38 pm
0
0
I would never hold back my

I would never hold back my child. It's something that follows them for the rest of their lives. At age 40 - the grown person will still say, "I failed the first grade." That's a tag I would never want for my kids or any kid. I say push them through.

tspears
0
Points
tspears 01/10/09 - 12:47 pm
0
0
Now think about this...a

Now think about this...a child fails the 6th grade and we don't want to add undue stress to their life so we are going to pass them on the the 7th grade. Great idea. Can anyone guess how the student is going to do at the higher level? The answer is usually even worse than before. Now at the end of the year this student fails the State testing and now who is to blame? That horrible teacher who did not do their job. If they don't have the basics down teaching them more advanced material is difficult if not impossible. That's kind of like an child who is trying to learn to walk and always falls. I have a great idea lets teach them to run instead.

SIGHER
0
Points
SIGHER 01/10/09 - 12:51 pm
0
0
Tujeez, I agree with your

Tujeez, I agree with your 11:13. Unfortunately, some of the problems these kids have are a product of their environment, not intellect or motive. Rewarding in the system is a given ideal. But, when they get home, they are broken back down by surroundings and no good parents, maybe even beaten for being rewarded. These type parents also need help. You know, the ones that weren't praised or nurtured themselves. It's a vicious cycle that one must overcome. Rewarding is definately a step toward the right path in helping them do just that.

SIGHER
0
Points
SIGHER 01/10/09 - 01:06 pm
0
0
corqimom, I have a niece that

corqimom, I have a niece that was also held back in early elementary school. It helped a little but she still struggles. She is now in high school and seems to be doing better. She has utilized the tutoring offered her at the schools.

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