05 SES 06 A, Urban Education & Children and Youth at Risk
Parallel Paper Session
In many countries, the practice of grade retention is widespread. Proponents believe that giving students “the gift of time” will put them back on track for normal educational growth. Ensuing the popularity of this strategy, a rich body of research has developed to test its effectiveness. In recent decades, many studies have condemned grade retention as an ineffective practice to improve student learning (see e.g., Jimerson, 2001). Although most studies on grade retention have pinpointed cognitive outcomes, others have linked retention to a range of problematic behavioral outcomes. Most studies in this area have linked grade retention to school dropout (e.g., Stearns et al., 2007), consistently finding that retained students have a higher chance of dropping out of school. Fewer have focused on students’ behavior at school (Jimerson & Ferguson, 2007). A shortcoming of the latter, moreover, is that most studies on school misbehavior have focused on primary (see, e.g., Pagani et al., 2001) or middle school contexts (e.g., Gottfredson et al., 1994), while retention effects on deviancy during adolescence have been virtually ignored (for a notable exception, see Jimerson & Ferguson, 2007). However, researchers have stated that the outcomes of retention may be different for students in different life phases, as older retainees would feel more stigmatized than younger ones (Wu, West, & Hughes, 2010). We would expect, consequently, that retention may yield school deviancy, especially in adolescent years. The first aim of this study is to fill the gap in the scientific literature by focusing on the relationship between grade retention and misbehavior in adolescent students.
Scholars have pointed out that retention research is methodologically flawed in a number of ways (see, e.g., Lorence, 2006). Most notably, it has failed to account for the multilevel nature of the school context (see Hong & Raudenbush, 2005). Previous research has shown that schools differ greatly in their retention policies, which yield differences in the schools’ retention composition. However, in the area of school deviancy, no study has investigated yet possible effects of the percentage of students retained. These authors also hold that previous retention research has started from the stable unit treatment value assumption (SUTVA; Rubin, 1986), meaning that the individual outcome of an intervention strategy is independent of the treatment other individuals receive. However, as students interact with each other at school, that assumption is untenable in a multilevel school context and, consequently, it is possible that the effects of being retained depend on the percentage of retained students in school (Hong & Raudenbush, 2005). These multilevel issues are still unexplored with regard to behavioral outcomes (Hong & Yu, 2008).
In short, this study addresses three research questions: first, whether there is a relation between retention and misconduct in adolescence, second, what is the effect of the percentage of retained students at school on the development of school misconduct, and, third, whether an association between retention and school misconduct is dependent upon the percentage of students retained in school.
Gottfredson, D. C., Fink, C. M., & Graham, N. (1994). Grade Retention and Problem Behavior. American Educational Research Journal, 31, 761-784. Hong, G. & Raudenbush, S. W. (2005). Effects of Kindergarten retention policy on children's cognitive growth in reading and mathematics. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 27, 205-224. Hong, G. & Yu, B. (2008). Effects of Kindergarten retention on children's social-emotional development: An application of propensity score method to multivariate, multilevel data. Developmental Psychology, 44, 407-421. Jimerson, S. R. (2001). Meta-analysis of grade retention research: Implications for practice in the 21st century. School Psychology Review, 30, 420-437. Jimerson, S. R. & Ferguson, P. (2007). A longitudinal study of grade retention: Academic and behavioral outcomes of retained students through adolescence. School Psychology Quarterly, 22, 314-339. Lorence, J. (2006). Retention and academic achievement research revisited from a United States perspective. International Educational Journal, 7, 731-777. Pagani, L., Tremblay, R. E., Vitaro, F., Boulerice, B., & McDuff, P. (2001). Effects of grade retention on academic performance and behavioral development. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 297-315. Rubin, D. B. (1986). Comment: Which ifs have causal answers. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 81, 961-962. Stearns, E., Moller, S., Blau, J., & Potochnick, S. (2007). Staying back and dropping out: The relationship between grade retention and school dropout. Sociology of Education, 80, 210-240. Wu, W., West, S. G., & Hughes, J. N. (2010). Effect of Grade Retention in First Grade on Psychosocial Outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 135-152.
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