Students retained for a year under Florida’s test-based promotion policy slightly outperformed students with similar test scores who were promoted to the next grade in previous years, according to a study published in the September issue of Education Finance and Policy.
That finding contradicts previous research, which has suggested that holding students back for a year can have harmful academic and social effects. The study’s authors, Jay P. Greene and Marcus A. Winters from the University of Arkansas, attribute the difference to the use of an objective promotion policy, rather than a subjective one based on teachers’ and administrators’ recommendations.
The study also found that students who were retained continued to make achievement gains in subsequent years. The researchers studied data from 2002 to 2005 from the Florida Department of Education on public school students in grades 3-10. The state’s promotion policy was started in 2002.