Here are a few questions that we can ask folks who advocate for student retention…
- In John Hattie’s highly-influential research compilation, Visible Learning, retention is one of the few factors – along with summer learning loss, student mobility, and excessive TV watching – that actually negatively impacts student learning. Why should we implement a practice that we know sends students’ learning in the wrong direction?
- Why should a very small handful of reports from ideologically-biased think tanks outweigh the hundreds of peer-reviewed scholarly studies over 4+ decades that unanimously show how detrimental the effects of student retention are?
- Do the reports that are cited in favor of student retention show actual long-term impacts (thus rebutting the 4+ decades of scholarly research) or just expected shorter-term achievement bumps that, as in previous studies, likely will wash out in the upper grades?
- Do you believe that children learn at different rates?
- Would hiring a private tutor for the next year cost less than paying for a retained student’s additional year of schooling?
- Why should 8-year-old children bear the academic and life burden of others’ desires to hold their teachers or parents ‘accountable?’
- Retention advocates mention all of the supports that will be put into place to help kids learn to read. Those are fantastic ideas and are much-needed. Couldn’t we do all of those without also implementing the harmful practice of retention?
What would you add to this list?