For You Michigan!—You Are WRONG about Retention!


There are some issues, like the loss of recess and retention of third graders, that make no sense at all. I can sometimes understand mistakes, attribute them to people being clueless, but when it comes to retention the research is there. Anyone who knows how to read and puts some time into it will learn there is no point in using retention. It’s harmful to children.

Following Michigan, the education news the last few days has been like riding a roller coaster.

The good news:

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is leading a special education task force and the wonderful Marcie Lipsitt who has been a tireless advocate for the rights of students with disabilities was one of the people selected to serve. That’s wonderful news!

But it doesn’t make sense that Michigan legislators turn around and pass a bill to retain their third graders who have difficulty reading.  The bill also calls for literacy coaches to assist students when they have difficulties, but is there any reason that can’t do that without retaining the children with reading difficulties?

While many of us keep hoping for the day that Florida and other states will quit using retention, now Michigan sees it has a reform that they must apply. And am I right in saying that parents have no say in this decision?

This is a post I already wrote along with other solutions that can be used instead of retention. What’s the point of rewriting it? I hope Michigan reconsiders. Or I hope school administrators, teachers, and parents ignore it. And I hope I never find the need to post this again.

Also, I include the excellent information about how to fight mandatory retention by Suzanne Whitney, a research editor for Wrightslaw. This is a special education issue and I hope the newly formed Michigan task force takes it on.

And below I cite a report by the National Association of School Psychologists which can be found on Google as a PDF file. It is titled “Grade Retention Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes.”


There are few education issues that anger me more than massive retention of third graders based on one test score! It’s a huge mistake. Adults fail children by not assisting them with their learning problems. Why is massive school retention terrible? A retained student doesn’t learn as well as a promoted student. Research shows that students held back learn slower and gains don’t last. Students who are promoted make more growth especially if their learning problems are addressed.

  • It is based on one test! There is a mistaken assumption that the test is a perfect measure of all a child knows. The questions are selected by a monolithic publishing company, like Pearson, who knows nothing else about the child.
  • It’s hard to find research that supports retention. Read more>>