Key Questions

1. Is there evidence that the extra year of instruction allowed low-achieving retained students to catch up and meet the same promotional standards they failed the previous year?

2. How did retention under high-stakes testing and Chicago's use of mid-year promotions shape retained students' subsequent progress? In other words, what was the probability of students being placed in special education, being retained again, or of rejoining their age-appropriate classmates?

3. Is there evidence that retention led to higher achievement for these students than if they had been promoted to the next grade?


This report and the companion report, Ending Social Promotion: Dropout Rates in Chicago After Implementation of the Eighth-Grade Promotion Gate, are the final two reports in the six-year ending social promotion series. This report describes the experiences of third- and sixth-grade students who did not meet Chicago Public Schools’ promotional test-score cutoffs and were retained in grade. Researchers examine how the practices resulting from the policy affected the retention experience and evaluate the impact of retention on students’ achievement growth and experiences in school. For a full analysis of the ending social promotion policy, please refer to our series of research studies.