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Effects of Kindergarten Retention Policy on Children's Cognitive Growth in Reading and Mathematics.

EFFECTS OF KINDERGARTEN RETENTION POLICY ON CHILDREN'S COGNITIVE GROWTH IN READING AND MATHEMATICS. Hong, G., & Raudenbush, S., Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 2005, 27(3), 205-224. Grade retention and social promotion have been two prominent areas of debate in education for many years. Many schools and districts have answered the call to end social promotion and have since adopted grade retention policies, which they believe benefit students in the early grades. However, many schools do consider retention to be an inappropriate version of remediation or intervention for students in need.

According to the authors, "The weight of evidence suggests that those who are retained exhibit less growth than they would have had they been promoted" (p. 208). However, conclusive research on retention has been difficult to obtain due to causal inference. Therefore, this article examines three empirical questions and utilizes methodology to address causal inference. The three research questions are: What is the average effect of the kindergarten retention policy?, What is the average impact of a school's retention policy on children who would be promoted if the policy were adopted?, and What is the effect of kindergarten retention on those who are retained?

The results of the study aligned with prior research by challenging the idea that kindergarten retention was an effective method of intervention for young students experiencing difficulties. According to the results of the study, the average effect of the kindergarten retention policy was null or small. In other words, children's learning outcomes did not change as a result of the school's change or acceptance of the retention policy. The study did find striking evidence that children who were retained would have learned more had they been promoted. "This was true in both reading and math" (p. 220).

This study holds great implications for early childhood educators, particularly those in kindergarten. By subscribing to the idea that "students need another year to mature or blossom," teachers are actually allowing another year for students to fall further behind. We should be encouraged to examine alternate solutions for students experiencing difficulties. Reviewed by Holly G. Morgan.
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Author:Morgan, Holly G.
Publication:Childhood Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2006
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