Countries in which schools frequently hold back or kick out students with low academic performance tend to have weaker, more expensive, and more socially inequitable education systems overall according to an analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
In comparing the results of the Program for International Student Assessment in 65 countries, OECD researchers found that differences among countries grade-retention trends could explain up to 15 percent of the variance among average scores on the 2009 PISA. The United States reported an average of more than one in 10 students repeating a grade, higher than the OECD average, while top-performing Finland and South Korea do not allow grade retention. Fewer than 3 percent of students in 13 countries reported ever repeating a grade, while more than 25 percent of students repeated at least one in France, Spain, and 13 other countries.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2011 edition of Education Week as Grade Retention