Short-term effects of grade retention on the growth rate of Woodcock-Johnson III broad math and reading scores

Wei Wu, Stephen West, Jan N. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations

Abstract

We investigated the effects of grade retention in first grade on the growth of the Woodcock-Johnson broad mathematics and reading scores over three years using linear growth curve modeling on an academically at-risk sample. A large sample (n = 784) of first grade children who were at risk for retention was initially identified based on low literacy scores. Scores representing propensity for retention were constructed based on 72 variables collected in comprehensive baseline testing in first grade. We closely matched 97 pairs of retained and promoted children based on their propensity scores using optimal matching procedures. This procedure adjusted for baseline differences between the retained and promoted children. We found that grade retention decreased the growth rate of mathematical skills but had no significant effect on reading skills. In addition, several potential moderators of the effect of retention on growth of mathematical and reading skills were identified including limited English language proficiency and children's conduct problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-105
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Volume46
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

Keywords

  • Grade retention
  • Linear growth curve modeling
  • Optimal matching
  • Propensity score

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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