Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Shyam Gouri Suresh
Maribel Hernandez, Cynthia Rodriguez, Luis Toledo, Ellie Pennybacker
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Chris Marsicano
Considering the impact a high school degree can have on the socio-economic trajectory of someone’s life, the interventions that are preventing graduation must be analyzed. This paper is intended to question the faults in the policy of grade retention as an effective means of remedial intervention. This question began in response to concerning data from the Spanish school systems on grade retention rates. As a basis for comparison and regional context, this research will be expanded to the entirety of the Iberian Peninsula. Additionally, we considered retention rates and intervention policies in the U.S. The intention of examining these three nations is to provide a comparative lens that focuses on both policy concerns as well as considers regional and national contexts. The goal of this research paper is to examine the faults in existing grade retention policies, and their impact on respective societies, while exploring more effective policy alternatives.
Comparing the educational systems of Spain, Portugal, and the U.S., what factors are preventing grade retention policies from being effective means of intervention?
We utilized a mixed methods resxcx earch design based on a text analysis of primary and secondary sources for our research. Using quantitative data, we identified inequalities in grade retention according to race/ethnicity, gender, and immigration status, SES. Qualitative data was used in order to describe the systematic ways in which this these inequalities are perpetuated. Through both quantitative and qualitative data, we compared the retention policies in three countries by evaluating the characteristics and trends, social causes, and effectiveness of policy, helping us better understand how to effectively intervene in student’s education.
In our research, we discovered a gap in the knowledge surrounding the effectiveness of retention policies. We also addressed the intra-national and international discrepancies in policies that contribute to an increase in dropout rates, while we found no explicit or isolated analysis of the causes of high retention rates, the correlation between retention rates and school failure hold greater implications for reciprocal causes and effects of grade retention. While the United States, Spain, and Portugal’s educational and political systems do not mirror each other, their respective retention policies ignore the domestic sphere, affecting their graduation rates without the presence of an effective policy. The lack of comprehensive data and cultural differences keep us from generalizing our results. However, something that can be assured is that home environments do have an effect on student’s proneness to be held back, regardless of national context. Explaining the relationships between the two tends to be country specific. Home environments tend to be different from country to country making generalized interventions ineffective. In of itself, the discovery of this limitation is an important landmark for research on grade retention. Moreover, this can be used in connection to the gender and SES inequalities we see in grade retention. Further research is needed to determine the role of home environments as mediators in this relationship.