Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

George Batsche, Ed.D.

Committee Member

Michael Curtis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Constance Hines, Ph.D.


retention, promotion, high stakes testing, student progression, remedial instruction


The literacy skills of students have become a significant concern among legislators and educators. The federal government has responded to this by enacting legislation that increases state accountability to provide evidence-based interventions to struggling readers. In response, the State of Florida has mandated mandatory retention for third-grade students who are at risk for reading failure. Third-grade students who do not pass the Florida comprehensive Assessment Test-Reading (FCAT) are retained. Students who score at Level 1 are retained, and students who scored at Levels 2 through 5 are promoted.

Research has indicated that retention has been an ineffective intervention to improve academic performance. However, it is difficult to compare research findings with Florida’s current retention plan. Previous research has not delineated the intervention strategies that were utilized during the retention year. Florida requires that all students are provided evidence-based reading remediation.

The purpose of this study was to explore the association of Florida’s model of student progression and academic achievement. More specifically, the study investigated the academic outcomes of third-grade students who scored within 10 scaled score points below the student progression achievement cut-off, attained a Level 1 designation in 2003 and were retained, and students who scored within 10 scaled score points above the student progression achievement cut-off, attained a Level 2 designation in 2003 and were promoted to fourth grade.

Results indicated that 87% of the higher performing retained students subsequently scored at Level 2 or higher in 2004 while 67% of the promoted, low achieving student scored at Level 2 or higher in 2004. Furthermore, gender, SES and race were significantly associated with the reading outcomes of higher achieving retained and promoted, low achieving students.

This study contributes to the literature by examining the outcomes of a retention model within a framework of academic remediation. In addition, the utility of high stakes testing and retention decisions were also examined. Future implications for research include direct comparisons of retained and promoted students, a longitudinal research design to examine the long-term effects of retention, and the identification of more effective services and intervention strategies to target at-risk students.