Friday, July 19, 2019

Nell Duke challenges controversial mandatory retention policies for third grade students


Professor Nell Duke challenged the justification for mandatory retention policies in a story on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” The story, “States Are Ratcheting Up Reading Expectations For 3rd-Graders” covers state laws that require third graders without demonstrated reading proficiency to repeat the grade. Responding to a study claiming that retained children in Florida have shown positive short-term outcomes, Duke said that any gains caused by retaining third graders could be caused by school interventions like reading coaches and summer school (included in the Florida law), as opposed to the actual retention of the child. Furthermore, those benefits appear to dissipate over time.

Michigan is one of the 19 states with a law requiring the retention of third grade readers who are not proficient. The law is controversial because studies show that failing a grade makes it more likely that a student will not graduate from high school.

Nell K. Duke is Professor

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