Mrs. Smith is a very caring woman who has always put her children’s needs before hers and she has always wanted to help them in their studies so that they can become better people in the future, but one thing has always troubled her. Tom, her first born son has been under performing in school and so far she has tried to look for ways to help him but in vain. She has bought him books and provided everything but there is no improvement . One day, she visited his class teacher for advice on the issue and it was suggested that they could try retention on him to see whether he can do better.
Tom is a just a representation of many other students who have had retention applied to them. However, researches that have been conducted have shown more disadvantages than advantages associated with retention and that is why it should not be applied on students unless they choose to do so voluntarily. What is retention? Retention is a process whereby a student who has spent a whole school year in a particular grade is required to remain in the same grade for the subsequent academic year.
This has also been termed as flunking or the gift of time (Ferguson, 2010). In US, pressure has been mounting to improve school performances and thus policies and legislation have been adopted at both national and state levels to do exactly that. This resulted to a call for the social promotion (the act of promoting students to the next grade despite of their dismal performance so that they can be with their age mates) to be brought to an end and grade retention to be renewed as an educational solution to children who are not performing well in school.
This sparked debate on whether the practice is good for students (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). People have brought forward all manner of reasoning encouraging retention of students. This include such factors like immaturity, some people believe that retention will lead to success, some students may fail to meet the requirements of promotion, absenteeism and lastly when a student is threatened by retention, he is more likely to work harder so that he cannot remain behind (Ferguson, 2010).
Why is retention not good for students? Despite of the above factors, research has showed that the practice is not good and it has proven ineffective when it comes to the improvement of the student’s performance. People have always held onto the belief that, the practice helps in developing educational skills at grade level and that giving the child another year will reinforce instruction. However, this is not true because retention has been associated with so many negative impacts on the child’s cognitive competence.
Some scholars have always questioned whether the retention process has always taken into account the academic, behavioral health of the child not forgetting, his mental health (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). This practice has been considered an expensive one in US especially in the recent years where the number of those students who are being retained every year has been shooting up and now the figure stands at 2. 4 million students, costing 14 billion dollars for the extra academic year (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002).
To retain a child, it may cost 5,000 dollars, excluding the costs of the child’s embarrassment. Instead of paying for the retention, one may decide to use the money to provide other alternative methods without subjecting the child to embarrassment which may even affect his whole life thus destroying it (Essay Club, 2010). Statistics also show that boys are retained more than girls and also that students from the minority groups are also retained more than the whites. Those who have been retained tend to be aggressive.
They have also been discovered to have been expelled or have history of suspension and they may walk out of class or on the teacher and sometimes displaying characteristics associated with disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity or the one related to conduct (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). One group which has always been a victim of retention is the disabled children and sometimes the diagnosis of these disability cases happen late after the retention process. These are some of the factors which are beyond them.
Others include for example, a family being less involved with the child’s education thus affecting his studies. The parents may be illiterate or may be having low education. The large family size may also lead to a student’s retention (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). Research has been done examining how students adjust and perform throughout high school, comparing under achieving retained students and the ones who have been promoted and the outcome of the research indicated some negativity.
Evidence shows that retention can never be a good intervention for problems relating to academic achievement and adjustments like socio economic ones. It was also discovered that most students who have undergone retention have high probability of dropping out of school. In actual terms, they became 2 to 11 times more likely than the ones who were promoted to drop out of school. In fact, to predict school drop outs, retention was used as one way to determine the drop out rate (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002).
Statistics show that one-grade retention increases the possibilities of the student to drop out by 40-50%, and two years retention increases the chances to 90% (Wells, 1989). The research went further to say that, the probability of the retained ones to get high school diplomas before clocking the age of twenty was low and also the probability for them to enroll for education at post secondary level was also low (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). It has emerged that retention is detrimental to the student mental health in that it increases levels of stress.
Survey which was taken on students indicates that by 6th grade, children dreaded retention and they claimed that it is the most stressful event in one’s life compared to the loss of a parent. Some were being threatened with retention for them to work hard and so many people have question whether it is motivating them or just increasing their levels of stress thus harming them (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). Their self esteem is also affected in a negative way hence leading most of them to miss out on class deliberately, especially the adolescents who were somehow older than their class mates.
This made some of them to start engaging in early sexual activities. Hence due to poor education, when they become adults, they find it difficult to support themselves. Even looking for jobs becomes a daunting task hence leading miserable lives afterwards, some resulting to drug abuse and criminal activities (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). Grade retention does not address risk factors related to it. Sometimes, the retained students become over aged for the grade and thus affecting them psychologically. They may be taunted by their peers leading to adjustment problems.
All these factors have endeared retention ineffective in solving underperformance in schools (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). Research has also gone further to prove that social promotion may also not be effective in solving education problems. Some may argue that retention has some gains regarding achievement of the student but this has been refuted by some scholars who have found that the following two to three years after retention, the academic achievement starts to decline indicating a short term positive impacts of retention (Ferguson, 2010).
Underperformance has been the main reason for retention but research has shown that students who cannot perform well in studies tend to perform better when promoted to the next grade hence underperformance should never be used as a justification for allowing students to go through this harrowing experience (Ferguson, 2010). In determining promotion, they use tests that are standardized which have been regarded as inappropriate for underperforming students and thus there have been calls for the tests scores to be reduced for the sake of the students (Barton et al, nd).
Some students ended up hating school so much that they deliberately absented themselves and thus ending up making very little progress in the second year (Barton, Campbell & Saffell, nd). Studies have also been carried out and one significant finding is that, there are no differences between children who were retained early in the kindergartens and those ones who were retained later maybe above the 4th grade and this shows that, the level of retention does not matter.
So long as a student or a child is retained in a particular grade, then he or she will display the negative effects associated with retention (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). Some people have also questioned the benefits people have attributed to the programs of the ‘extra year’ where children who are not ready to join the first grade can spend another year in kindergarten prior to promotion. This has been found to be of no benefit to the student because it does not help him catch-up or improve academically in relation to those students who are under performing but are not retained (Wetchester Institute, nd).
It has been argued that, retention is a way of cheating a student of an education (Nation Master Encyclopedia, 2005). Theories suggest that remedial classes are the best in tackling the issue of non performance and thus the retention program is not in any way a cost effective method to improve performance (Nation Master Encyclopedia, 2005). One may wonder why some educators till persist with this notion of retention to be used on children despite its harmful effects. One thing that is clear is that it does not add anything to the child, only some short term positive effects and some long term negative ones.
Giving the lame reason for retaining them, using academic achievement as the main reason, research has shown that, it is the one that suffers most from retention more than students adjustment, their self concept and attitude towards education (Barton, Campbell & Saffell, nd). Even though middle schools have been recommended for retaining students, they do not meet their needs especially of the adolescent ones who are having a hard time coping with their rapid growth and development characterized by emotional turmoil (Wells, 1989).
Researches have been done and the results have always been the same in that, retention does not help anyway in academic achievement. The gains are smaller for the ones retained than the ones promoted. Articles which have been written on the topic between years 1990-1997, show that only one has been written in support of it. This statistic is an outstanding (Barton, Campbell & Saffell, nd). More effective methods can be used instead of taking the student through retention. These include reading programs, tuition or summer schools, among others.
People have been advised to use these methods because they promote both social and cognitive competence and they also facilitate success in educational circles contrary to retention method which only emphasizes on one aspect (Gabrielle, Whipple & Jimerson, 2002). This does not mean that the practice should discarded, but it is not supposed to be imposed on a student, he or she should be allowed to make the decision of whether to repeat or not but other alternatives should be considered first before settling on retention for the best interest of the child (Ferguson, 2010).
Conclusion In conclusion, the opponents to this program have recommended that the policies concerning it should be changed and things like free peer tutoring should be encouraged and instructions should aim to address the weakness of the student. There should be arrangements for some remedial help or programs before and after school. Schools are also encouraged to provide assistants who would help in instructing the children in classroom. What matters is the individual and thus help should target the individuals and not all underperforming students.
Retention of students should therefore be discouraged unless they choose to do so voluntarily. References Barton. N. , Campbell, N. & Saffell, B. (nd). How does retention impact children. Retrieved from http://bpayne. myweb. uga. edu/NanBrandyweb. html Encyclopedia, Nation Master. (2005). Grade retention. Retrieved from http://www. statemaster. com/encyclopedia/Grade-retention Essay club. (2010). Can retention be good? Retrieved from http://www. essayclub. com/term-papers/Can-Retention-Good-Student/8954. html Ferguson, L. (2010). Retention is harmful. Retrieved from http://rowanclass09. blogspot.
com/2010/04/repeating-school-also-known-as. html Gabrielle. E. , Whipple, A. & Jimerson, S. (2002). Grade retention: Achievement and mental health outcomes. Retrieved from http://www. dys-add. com/NASPRetention. pdf Wells A. (1989). Middle school education: The critical link in drop out prevention. Retrieved from http://www. ericdigests. org/pre-9213/middle. htm http://www. statemaster. com/encyclopedia/Grade-retention Wetchester Institute for Human Services Research (nd). Balanced view; Social promotion and retention. Retrieved from http://www. sharingsuccess. org/code/socprom. html