Document Type

Policy Brief

Date of this Version



Retaining students in grade is often used as a means to raise educational standards. Many believe that repeating a grade is an effective remedy for students who have failed to master basic skills. Therefore, grade retention is relatively prevalent in this nation.

However, research on student retention indicates that it does not work as intended to assure mastery of skills, avoid failure at higher grade levels and lower dropout rates. This issue of CPRE Policy Briefs is based on material in a recently published book, Flunking Grades: Research and Policies on Retention (London: Falmer, 1989). The book's editors, Lorrie A. Shepard and Mary Lee Smith, address a series of questions abut the practice of grade retention and the research evidence.


This document was authored by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, but no individual authors were identified.

View on the CPRE website.



Date Posted: 30 September 2016