Despite the prevalence of the grade retention in US schools, understanding of the effectiveness of this costly intervention is lacking due to methodological and conceptual limitations of extant research. A primary methodological limitation is a failure in most studies of retention effects to rule out that pre-existing vulnerabilities associated with selection into the retention intervention are responsible for results. Conceptually, studies fail to specify developmental processes by which retention would affect academic outcomes. Prospective, longitudinal studies spanning grades 1-12 are rare. The primary objective of the proposal is to continue to follow a sample of 569 ethnically and linguistically diverse students (206 Hispanic, 200 White, 140 African American, and 23 Other), who were recruited on the basis of academic risk when in first grade in 2000 or 2001 and are still active, to determine the effects of grade retention on students'graduation from high school and postsecondary educational and occupational attainment, and to investigate theoretically informed models of processes that mediate the impact of grade retention as well variables that moderate its success. Drawing from results obtained to date, retention in the elementary grades is expected to negatively impact students'psychological, cognitive, and behavioral engagement in middle school, which will impact achievement and school persistence in high school. A second objective is to clarify the role of social processes and classroom and school variables on achievement and educational attainment via the effect of social processes on students'educational motivation and aspirations. Thirdly, the study investigates the role of ethnicity, language, and culture as they relate to the first two specific aims in our sub-sample of Hispanic students. Propensity matching will be used to minimize selection effects into the retention group. The availability of extensive data from teachers, peers, schools, and parents as well as annual individual assessments of students'academic achievement and psychosocial functioning across students'public school experience permits testing complex models of growth in academic motivation and achievement across schooling, change across time in sources of influence on achievement, and short-term as well as long- term consequences of grade retention as well as peer, teacher, and family variables on educational outcomes. Research questions are translated into testable hypothesized models and presented in path diagrams. The corresponding statistical powers of the hypothesized models are then estimated procedures that address both latent and observed variables as well as the multilevel nature of our data simultaneously.

Public Health Relevance

Although students retained in grade are more likely to drop out of school, it is not clear that the association between being retained and dropping out of school is due to retention or to other vulnerabilities that are associated with being retained. The proposed research uses a longitudinal design with good controls for students'vulnerabilities for poor educational outcomes, prior to being retained, to determine the effect of grade retention on high school graduation and post- secondary educational and occupational outcomes. Failure to earn a high school degree places an individual at greatly increased risk for long-term social, mental health, and economic problems. The study also investigates factors that buffer students with poor academic skills in first grade from poor educational outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Community-Level Health Promotion Study Section (CLHP)
Program Officer
Griffin, James
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Texas A&M University
Schools of Education
College Station
United States
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Deutz, Marike H F; Shi, Qinxin; Vossen, Helen G M et al. (2018) Evaluation of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire-Dysregulation Profile (SDQ-DP). Psychol Assess 30:1174-1185
Allee-Smith, Paula J; Im, Myung Hee; Hughes, Jan N et al. (2018) Mentor Support Provisions Scale: Measure dimensionality, measurement invariance, and associations with adolescent school functioning. J Sch Psychol 67:69-87
Liew, Jeffrey; Cao, Qian; Hughes, Jan N et al. (2018) Academic Resilience Despite Early Academic Adversity: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study on Regulation-Related Resiliency, Interpersonal Relationships, and Achievement in First to Third Grade. Early Educ Dev 29:762-779
Hughes, Jan N; Cao, Qian (2018) Trajectories of teacher-student warmth and conflict at the transition to middle school: Effects on academic engagement and achievement. J Sch Psychol 67:148-162
Hughes, Jan N; Cao, Qian; West, Stephen G et al. (2017) Effect of retention in elementary grades on dropping out of school early. J Sch Psychol 65:11-27
Im, Myung Hee; Hughes, Jan N; West, Stephen G (2016) Effect of Trajectories of Friends' and Parents' School Involvement on Adolescents' Engagement and Achievement. J Res Adolesc 26:963-978
Hughes, Jan N; Cao, Qian; Kwok, Oi-Man (2016) Indirect Effects of Extracurricular Participation on Academic Adjustment Via Perceived Friends' Prosocial Norms. J Youth Adolesc 45:2260-2277
Im, Myung Hee; Hughes, Jan N; Cao, Qian et al. (2016) Effects of Extracurricular Participation During Middle School on Academic Motivation and Achievement at Grade 9. Am Educ Res J 53:1343-1375
Hughes, Jan N; Im, Myung H (2016) Teacher-Student Relationship and Peer Disliking and Liking Across Grades 1-4. Child Dev 87:593-611
Spilt, Jantine; Hughes, Jan N (2015) African American Children At-Risk of Increasingly Conflicted Teacher-Student Relationships in Elementary School. School Psych Rev 44:246-261

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