Policy Details

5123 Retention





The philosophy of Litchfield Public Schools is to maintain high standards for student performance while accommodating individual learning needs. The district recognizes that grade retention is not successful in remediating student academic weaknesses without specific supplemental supports to address areas of academic weakness. The student's age, maturity level, and/or classroom behavior will not be considered as primary criteria for retention. Student profiles should be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine whether or not retention is a necessary part of the plan to close the student's achievement gap.


There is overwhelming evidence from educational research that retention is not an effective practice for low-achieving students. Recent studies indicate that retention does not improve students' chances for educational success. In fact, retention often has a negative impact on student achievement. Students who drop out are five times more likely to have been retained than those who graduate (National Center for Education Statistics, 2006). Students who are retained in the primary grades show an initial improvement in academics. However, this improvement most often disappears in two to three years, after which retained students do no better or even slightly worse than similarly achieving students who were promoted. Studies also show that most elementary school teachers overestimate the academic benefits of retention (Alexander et al. 2002, McKay 2001). It has been suggested that this occurs because lower grade teachers see only the initial gains made by the student in the first few years after retention but do not follow the student's progress through middle and high school. Retention in early elementary school does not appear to have an immediate effect on self-esteem or adjustment to school. However, by junior and senior high school, retained students tend to have more behavior problems, more difficulties with peer relationships, lower self-esteem, and poorer attendance (Jimerson and Ferguson, 2007).

Before retention can be considered, it is essential that sufficient strategies to support student growth are implemented. This may include small group, targeted instruction, supplemental instruction from specialized personnel, individualized instruction, supplemental or alternate materials, or other interventions.

Litchfield Board of Education
Policy Adopted: October 17, 2012

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