A meta-analysis of the effects of grade retention of K-6 students on student achievement, 1990-2010
This dissertation investigates the relationship between grade retention and students' academic achievement for K-6 students. A meta-analysis was conducted from studies published between 1990 and 2010 that reported data on the effects of elementary grade retention and students' academic achievement. The primary hypothesis for this dissertation was that there was a positive relationship between grade retention and students' academic performance. An extensive systematic review of the literature was conducted using bibliographic databases and other sources, resulting in the review of hundreds of abstracts and articles. Initially, this review resulted in the identification of approximately 120 articles, from which, 68 were identified as potential studies for inclusion in this meta-analysis. As data were abstracted from each potential study and evaluated, 43 studies remained for inclusion in this meta-analysis. Of these 43 studies, 31 either reported effect sizes in the results section or included sufficient data to calculate the effect sizes. After testing each study for statistical significance and eliminating insignificant studies, 26 studies remained. Effect sizes for these 26 studies were averaged and an effect size of medium strength was revealed (ES = 0.50). This effect size indicated that retained students scored 0.50 standard deviations lower than promoted students on academic outcome measures. Sixteen studies included in this meta-analysis had never been included in any prior meta-analysis, thus adding to the existing literature. This study found that there was not a positive relationship between grade retention and students' academic performance. Results support the findings of most prior studies on grade retention concluding that grade retention is not an effective intervention. Major findings are provided for the four research questions examined in this study. In addition, implications for practitioners and implications for researchers are included, as well as, suggestions for future research.