Trajectories of math and reading achievement in low-achieving children in elementary school: Effects of early and later retention in grade

Stephanie E. Moser, Stephen West, Jan N. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of retention or promotion in 1st grade on growth trajectories in mathematics and reading achievement over the elementary school years (Grades 1-5). From a large multiethnic sample (n = 784) of children who were below the median in literacy at school entrance, 363 children who were either promoted (n = 251) or retained (n = 112) in 1st grade could be successfully matched on 72 background variables. Achievement was measured annually using Woodcock-Johnson W scores; scores of retained children were shifted back 1 year to permit same-grade comparisons. Using longitudinal growth curve analysis, trajectories of math and reading scores for promoted and retained children were compared. Retained children received a 1-year boost in achievement; this boost fully dissipated by the end of elementary school. The pattern of subsequent retention in Grades 2, 3, and 4 and placement in special education of the sample during the elementary school years are also described and their effects are explored. Policy implications for interventions for low-achieving children are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-621
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Volume104
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Keywords

  • Academic achievement
  • Elementary grades
  • Grade retention
  • Growth curve model
  • Math achievement
  • Reading achievement
  • Special education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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