Although grade retention may be consequential for a number of important educational and socioeconomic outcomes, we know surprisingly little about the actual rate at which students are made to repeat grades. We build on Hauser, Frederick, and Andrew’s 2007 measure of grade retention using data from the 1995 through 2010 Current Population Surveys. We make technical improvements to their measure, provide more recent estimates, and validate the measure against external criteria. Our measure describes large disparities in grade retention rates by sex, race/ethnicity, geographic locale, and students’ socioeconomic circumstances. However, both absolute retention rates and disparities in retention rates have declined markedly since 2005. We conclude by describing how our measures might be used to model the impact of economic and policy contexts on grade retention rates.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2014 annual meetings of the Population Association of America. This project benefited from support provided by the Minnesota Population Center, which receives core support (5R24HD041023) from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. The University of Minnesota’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program also provided generous support for this project. However, errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.
© 2014 AERA.
- descriptive analysis
- educational policy
- elementary schools