Retaining students only proliferates failure

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Researcher Jane David explores a variety of studies in this 2008 article about the impact of retention on student achievement. David offers this succinct summary of her findings:

Without early diagnosis and targeted intervention, struggling students are unlikely to catch up whether they are promoted or retained.

Someone might want to share this with the bureaucrats who believe it’s a good idea to retain third graders who fail a standardized reading test. This is the so-called incentive behind what governors have inappropriately named, The Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

The best way to help poor readers and other failing students is to do a better job of educating them from the beginning — as early as preschool. Young students need to be taught to love learning. This begins with making school a welcoming, warm, friendly place. It continues with putting books in kids’ hands and allowing them to read often, both in and out of class.

If students are hit with a slew of F’s and told they must be held back, because they are failures, they will grow to believe that they are just that.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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