Study: Social promotion hurts students

Florida students who repeated a grade in elementary school outperformed similar students who were promoted, even after five years, according to a new study in Education Finance and Policy by Jay Greene and Marcus Winters.

The benefits of ending social promotion “diminish, but they remain statistically significant and educationally substantial through middle school,” Greene writes.

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  1. I read about this issue elsewhere, and seem to remember that retained kids were given targeted help in areas where they had deficiences, as opposed to just doing another year of the same. If that is the case, that could explain their different outcomes from the latter (more usual) approach. Of course, it would be nice if kids were given that kind of help when they first started to struggle, but as long as schools refuse to group by academic level and instructional needs (the horrors of homogeneous/leveled grouping), they’re not likely to get it.

  2. Current practices and policies also reflect a refusal to recognize that all students will never be able to learn the same amount of material in the same amount of time. Some kids need more time (more repetition of instruction and more practice) than others and some need less.

  3. What I would love to see is a study on the effect of the rest of the class, once those students are no longer part of the class – would the overall performance improve?