Date of Award

11-2008

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Steven K. Million

Second Supervisor

Katrina Arndt

Abstract

The problem that this study examined was the academic improvement of two- and three-time retained seventh grade students in low-performing middle school after modifying the school's leadership team and academic program. This study examined the effects of grade retention, school climate, motivation, and teacher-student relationship on academic performance. Review of research findings suggest retention yields no benefit (Jimerson (2001), Holmes & Matthews (1984), and Jackson (1975). Despite research suggesting little benefit from retention, it remains a common practice among educators (Holmes & Matthews, 1984; Jackson, 1975; Jimerson, 2001). A qualitative case study design using document analysis and structured interviews was used to investigate teh factors that may have contributed to the students' academic improvement. Data collected from participant interviews were coded and analyzed. Participants recognized school climate, caring teachers, supportive families, and self determination as factors contributing to their academic improvement after being retained in the seventh grade. Evidence presented in this study suggests that students can experience academic success after grade-level retention yet this does not suggest that retention be used as a form of academic intervention for struggling students. Rather, it is incumbent upon educators to implement programs that support academic achievement, provide a safe learning environment for students and no longer consider retention to be the only solution for students who perform below standards.

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