Graduation Year


Document Type

Ed. Specalist



Degree Granting Department

Psychological and Social Foundations

Major Professor

Michael Curtis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George Batsche, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Constance Hines, Ph.D.


Reading, Achievement, Remediation, Progression, Policy


Literacy is a growing national concern, resulting in federal legislation (e.g., No Child Left Behind Act) instituting higher accountability for states and schools with regard to reading instruction and remediation. As a result, Floridas statewide measure of achievement, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) is now tied to retention decisions in third grade as part of the new pupil progression plan in the state. In its first year of implementation (2003), 23% of third-grade students failed the FCAT and over 28,000 were retained.

Research has consistently shown retention to be a negative experience for children; even when academic gains are made, within two to three years, their achievement is equal to or lower than that of both same-grade and same-age regularly promoted students. However, these findings cannot be generalized to the current student progression plan in Florida, which mandates specific remediation activities during the retention year. Therefore, holding negative beliefs about grade retention in Florida is premature as no research exists to date evaluating the outcomes of the plan.

The present study examined the student progression plan in Florida at it relates to high-stakes testing and mandated third-grade retention. More specifically, this study examined the relationship between the effects of retention and various student demographic characteristics (e.g., gender, SES, race/ethnicity), as well as the future performance on the FCAT-Reading of low-performing students who were promoted through good cause exemptions.

Descriptive analyses revealed that of 20,617 third-grade retainees, 38% again scored at Level 1 in 2004. In addition, future success of retainees was significantly associated with gender, race, and SES. With regard to students who were promoted due to a good cause exemption, findings indicated that a higher percentage of those who demonstrated reading proficiency through an alternative procedure (65%) achieved success in fourth grade compared to those who did not demonstrate proficiency (23%).

This study contributes to the literature by examining the outcomes of grade retention within a context of high-stakes testing and mandated remediation activities. Implications for future research include controlling for the quality of interventions and identifying strategies that target specific populations of at-risk students.