Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership


Dr. Cheri Smith


This quantitive, non-experimental study examined the effects of retention versus social promotion in the early grades on later academic achievement as measured by the Arkansas Augmented Benchmark Exam for 4th grade students in a large Central Arkansas school district. Student achievement was studied based on gender and socioeconomic status on both literacy and math achievement scores.

The independent variables were socioeconomic status (free/reduced lunch versus regular pay lunch) and gender (male versus female). The dependent variables were math and literacy achievememnt scale scores as measured on the Arkansas Augmented Benchmark Exam at the 4th grade level. The four hypotheses were each examined by using a 2 x 2 Factorial Analysis of Variance (ANOVA).

Pair-wise matching, sometimes called matched pairs, was used to match students from the retained group to students in the socially promoted group based on socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, proficiency level at the time of social promotion or retention, and the same elementary school the student was attending during their 4th grade school year. The findings of this study are consistant with previous research findings which also concluded that neither retention in the same grade nor social promotion to the next grade result in long term academic improvement. This indicates that other forms of intervention and remediation should be initiated rather than reverting to the retention or social promotion options that have been frequently used. Simply repeating the same information presented in a similar fashion for a second year has failed to increase student achivement. Providing new and intensive strategies and interventions after students have encountered failure in a grade have also proven to be ineffective.

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