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Grade Repetition / Social Promotion - What the Research Indicates

A frequently asked question of:
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Example queries:

Please provide a review of the research literature pertaining to grade repetition for grades K-12. What are the pros and cons of retention of students at all grade levels?

What are local policies across the United States for student promotion / grade repetition?

In order to sidestep the undesirable options of either retention or social promotion, what educational practices are recommended to boost the achievement of students at high risk of academic underachievement ?

What are the special considerations regarding retention of young children in early childhood education? Have transition classes proven to be beneficial or harmful?

Table of Contents

[Topical Overviews in Full-Text]

When Retention Is Recommended, What Should Parents Do? [1997] - by Anne S. Robertson

Promotion Policies in the Urban High School [1988] - by Michael Webb & Paul Bunten

Grade Retention and Promotion [1986] - by Karen Steiner


Taking Responsibility for Ending Social Promotion: A Guide for Educators and State and Local Leaders [1999] - U.S. Department of Education

Promotion or Retention: Which One Is Social? [1999] - by Jeannie Oakes, Harvard Education Letter

Passing on Failure: District Promotion Policies & Practices [1997] - American Federation of Teachers

Repeating Grades in School: Current Practice and Research Evidence [1990] - Consortium for Policy Research in Education [pdf]

[Table of Contents]


Dynamic (i.e., Live) Searches of the ERIC Documents Database

The following search options employ the electronic Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors as the search interface for the ERIC documents database. If you would like to ensure a current bibliography of ERIC documents for any of the given sub-topics, then we highly recommend that you pursue this option. Also, once you have selected a search option, you may edit the given strategy to introduce concepts into the search to accommodate your specific needs; or, you can build an entirely new search strategy in the ERIC Search Wizard. For a short, highly selective bibliography, please see the Selected ERIC Documents Citations below.

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grade Repetition/Social Promotion in Elementary Secondary Education

  • Dynamic Search of the ERIC Database for Grade Repetition in Early Childhood Education

Selected ERIC Documents Citations

Although less current and less plentiful than the Dynamic Search option (above), these selective bibliographies present ERIC documents citations that have been preselected on the basis of the thoroughness and/or authority and/or uniqueness that they reflect.

Instructions for ERIC Documents Access

[Table of Contents]

[Check your local library or bookstore for access]

	Amadio, M. (1996). Primary school repetition: a global perspective.
Geneva, Switzerland: UNESCO, International Bureau of Education.

	American Federation of Teachers. Passing on failure: district
promotion policies and practices. Washington, DC: Author. Available:

	Educational Research Service. (1997). Retention in grade, K-6.
(ERS info-file 190). Arlington, VA: Author.

	Eisemon, T. (1997). Reducing repetition: issues and strategies.
(Fundamentals of Educational Planning No. 55). Paris: UNESCO, International
Institute for Educational Planning.

	Holt, J.C. (1995). How children fail. (Classics in Child
Development). Reading, MA: Perseua Books.
	McCoy, A.R. (1998). Grade retention and school performance: an extended
investigation. (Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper
No. 1167-98). Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for
Research on Poverty.

	Retention and social promotion: Hearing before the Committee
on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, United States Senate,
106th Congress, 1st Sess. 54 (1999).

	U.S. Department of Education. (1999). Taking responsibility for
ending social promotion: a guide for educators and state and local
leaders. Washington, DC: Author. Available:

[Table of Contents]

Publication Notes:
Created: August 30, 1999
Last Revised: August 31, 1999

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