"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daniels fails...

In his State of the State address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels called for an end to the "Social Promotion" of third graders and encouraged legislators to pass a bill requiring schools to retain third graders who are "illiterate."

Once again...retention doesn't work, and, in fact, makes things worse. The Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion from the National Association of School Psychologists has this to say:
Impact [of grade retention] at the elementary school level:

. While delayed entry and readiness classes may not hurt children in the short run, there is no evidence of a positive effect on either long-term school achievement or adjustment. Furthermore, by adolescence, these early retention practices are predictive of numerous health and emotional risk factors, and associated deleterious outcomes.

. Initial achievement gains may occur during the year the student is retained. However, the consistent trend across many research studies is that achievement gains decline within 2-3 years of retention, such that retained children either do no better or perform more poorly than similar groups of promoted children. This is true whether children are compared to same-grade peers or comparable students who were promoted.

. The most notable academic deficit for retained students is in reading.

. Children with the greatest number of academic, emotional, and behavioral problems are most likely to experience negative consequences of retention. Subsequent academic and behavioral problems may result in the child being retained again.

. Retention does not appear to have a positive impact on self-esteem or overall school adjustment; however, retention is associated with significant increases in behavior problems as measured by behavior rating scales completed by teachers and parents, with problems becoming more pronounced as the child reaches adolescence.

. Research examining the overall effects of 19 empirical studies conducted during the 1990s compared outcomes for students who were retained and matched comparison students who were promoted. Results indicate that grade retention had a negative impact on all areas of achievement (reading, math and language) and socio-emotional adjustment (peer relationships, self esteem, problem behaviors, and attendance).
You can read it all at http://www.nasponline.org/about_nasp/pospaper_graderetent.aspx

In recent years similar plans were tried in New York and Chicago, among other places, and it didn't work there. The research against retention has been consistent for decades. Why do the governor and the legislators who support this idea think it is going to work in Indiana?

(Also see the links to research on retention in the right hand column of this blog)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is almost more chilling than legislating retention for 8 year olds is Daniels apparent confusion regarding the difference between "illiterate" and "on grade level."

While I am deeply uneasy with the concept of "on level" as arbitrary and unfair to students who are developing at a reasonable - but not normative pace, still most third graders are far from illiterate, but some are not "on level." It saddens me to see students who DO read and ARE reading considered failures so early in their lives because they are defining "below level." In order to HAVE an "on level" a certain number of children need to fall into that "below" category. Because of the relentless pace set by standardized testing, those students often don't get the kinds of opportunities to succeed that would actually allow them to reach their potential.

This shows Governer Daniels does not have a clear grasp of educational issues and realities. His "Fast Forward" plan for "reforming" education in Indiana confirms this.