Retention Reduces Dropouts?

K-12 Testing

Can grade retention lead to a reduction in the dropout rate? Despite a massive accumulation of evidence to the contrary, this was the argument presented by Jay Greene and Marcus Winters, of the right-wing Manhattan Institute, in a February 28, 2005, Philadelphia Enquirer opinion piece. Their primary intent was to use data from Florida to urge Philadelphia to expand its retention program. However, Greene and Winters’ Florida study did not look at dropouts at all. In fact it only considered one year of grade retention, too little to provide any evidence of long-term effectiveness (see Examiner, Winter 2004-05).


The authors also offered no new evidence to support their preposterous claim that more retention would reduce the dropout rate. Apparently, a lack of data no longer disuades ideologically motivated “researchers” such as Greene and Winters from offering policy advice.