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Questions for student retention advocates

Questions for student retention advocates

Here are a few questions that we can ask folks who advocate for student retention…
In John Hattie’s highly-influential research compilation, Visible Learning, retention is one of the few factors – along with summer learning loss, student mobility, and excessive TV watching – that actually negatively impacts student learning. Why should we implement a practice that we know sends students’ learning in the wrong direction?
Why should a very small handful of reports from ideologically-biased think tanks outweigh the hundreds of peer-reviewed scholarly studies over 4+ decades that unanimously show how detrimental the effects of student retention are?
Do the reports that are cited in favor of student retention show actual long-term impacts (thus rebutting the 4+ decades of scholarly research) or just expected shorter-term achievement bumps that, as in previous studies, likely will wash out in the upper grades?
Do you believe that children learn at different rates?
Would hiring a private tutor for the next year cost less than paying for a retained student’s additional year of schooling?
Why should 8-year-old children bear the academic and life burden of others’ desires to hold their teachers or parents ‘accountable?’
Retention advocates mention all of the supports that will be put into place to help kids learn to read. Those are fantastic ideas and are much-needed. Couldn’t we do all of those without also implementing the harmful practice of retention?
What would you add to this list?
Image credit: Questions, Tim O’Brien

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