DRAFT Proposal for Resolution [Please email your support, allowing your name to be included and note if NCTE member, and any edits ASAP to paul.thomas@furman.edu]

NCTE Resolution: Grade Retention as Flawed Education and Reading Policy

Grade retention as a major element in education and reading policy has been adopted by at least 14 states, with 32+ states linking reading intervention to high-stakes testing (Rose, 2012). These policies ignore four decades of research on the negative consequences of grade retention and the significant body of research on effective and supportive literacy instruction.

Grade retention, the practice of holding students back to repeat a grade, does more harm than good, including: (i) retaining students who have not met proficiency levels with the intent of repeating instruction is punitive, socially inappropriate, and educationally ineffective, (ii) grade retention, especially when based on high-stakes tests, will disproportionately and negatively impact children of color, impoverished children, ELL students, and special needs students, and (iii) grade retention is strongly correlated with behavior problems, increased drop-out rates, and discipline issues.

As such, grade retention represents a system of policies increasingly adopted based on misleading advocacy , resulting in a recursive cycle of punishment for young people, diminishing their sense of belonging and reducing their opportunity for educational equity. The academic benefits of retention are limited, short-lived and far outweighed by the negative consequences on students’ development in reading, writing, and all aspects of literacy. In fact, negative social, emotional, and academic effects of grade retention, at every level, are ongoing and persist into adulthood. Educators, policymakers, and political leaders must oppose the practice of retention.

The current pattern of political and public embrace of grade retention as a significant element in reading policy ignores solid decades of research refuting grade retention.

Resolved that NCTE strongly opposes the growing practice in several states of enacting into law grade retention requirements that children be retained in any grade who do not meet criteria in reading and other subjects.

And be it further Resolved that NCTE strongly opposes the use of high-stakes test performance as a major criterion for making judgments about retention in grade at any level or graduation.

If this resolution is adopted the NCTE staff will publicize this resolution to the public and urge similar actions by professional and other organizations. And the NCTE executive committee will schedule an agenda item to consider further implementations, including a plan to contact states with grade retention policies in order to advocate for repealing those policies and implementing sound literacy policy instead

Grade Retention Research


NCTE Members

Yetta Goodman, Regents Professor Emerita
Ken Goodman, Professor Emeritus
Julie Gorlewski, Assistant Professor
David Gorlewski, Assistant Professor
P.L. Thomas, Associate Professor, Furman University
David Schultz, Assistant Professor
Janis Mottern-High
Steven Heller
Tara Seale
Renee M. Moreno, Ph.D.
Jesse P. Turner
Jeanne Gilliam Fain, Ph.D.
Joan Kaywell, Professor
Marjorie Siegel, Teachers’ College, Columbia U.
Renita Schmidt, COE, U.of Iowa
Dorothy King, retired
Connie Weaver, retired Endowed Professor of Reading and Writing, Miami U.
Diane Stephens, U. of So. Carolina
Prisca Martens, Towson U.
Jack S. Damico, U of Louisiana@Layfayette
Margaret Phinney, U. of Wisconsin River Falls
Amy Barnhill, U. of Houston, Victoria
Patricia L. Anders, U. of Arizona, COE
Michael Shaw, Director of the Reading Collaborative
J.C. Harste, retired Indiana U
Barbara Flores, San Bernadino City Unified School Board Member
Paul Crowley, Sonoma State U.
Yvonne Sui Runyan, NCTE Past President
Caryl Crowell, teacher, Tucson Unified School District
Eliane Rubinstein-Avila, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies, U. of Arizona.
Elizabeth Jaeger, Teaching, Learning & Sociocultural Studies, U of Arizona
Susan Seay, School of Ed., U. of Alabama, Birmingham
Richard Meyer, Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, U. of  New Mexico
Denny Taylor, Garn Press
Christian Z. Goering
Lenny Sanchez, U. of Missouri
Mitzi Lewison, Literacy, Culture & Language Education, Indiana U.
Koomi Kim, Mexico State U.
Kathryn Whitmore, Endowed Chair Early Childhood, U. of Louisville
Jan Turbill, U. of Woolongong, NSW, Australia
Carole Edelsky, retired, Arizona State U.
Dawn J. Mitchell, Adjunct Instructor Furman University/ Spartanburg Writing Project, USC Upstate
Sandra Wilde, City U. of New York
Bess Altwerger, Towson U.
Carol Lauritzen, Eastern Oregon U.
Nancy Patterson, Literacy Studies, Grand Vallley State U.
Scott Richie, Kennesaw State U.
Jane Baskwill, Mount Saint Vincent U.
Howard Miller, Mercy Coilege School of Education
Reade Dornan, retired Michigan State U.
John Stansell, Chair Teacher Education and Administration U. of North Texas
Karen Packard, retired
Dr. Geneva Smitherman

Additional Support

Dan Kenley, Retired K-12 Teacher, Principal, and Director
Bill Boyle, Principal
Tom Gallagher, Teacher
Russ Walsh
Jack Awtrey, Title I Academic Specialist, Elementary ELA