Thousands of students across the United States are retained annually in their current grade level for a variety of reasons, but primarily retention is due to academic grade level performance, on local or state standardized tests. The push for higher student accountability has led states and school districts to implement intervention policies to try to bridge the gap for under-achieving students. This study focuses on the perceptions of administrators in rural districts and the pros and cons of grade level retention in primary grades. Although there is no one factor able to determine the success or failure of grade level retention as a primary grade level intervention, key findings from the study identify retention is used frequently as an intervention among many rural districts.
Findings from this study indicate that there are three main reasons administrators retain students: 1) allow students time to mature, 2) academically more than two grade levels behind peers, and 3) allow students additional time to mature and catch up with peers. Administrators indicated that besides social demographics, social maturity played a large role in a student’s readiness for a formal education.