Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

 Home > Topics > Retention & FAPE - What Does the Research Say?

The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:


2014 - 2015 Training Programs

Apr 26 - Little Rock, AR

May 9 - Los Angeles, CA

June 3 - NYC

June 22 - Chicago, IL

June 26 - Lawrence, MA

Aug 2 - Birmingham, AL

Aug 3-8 Williamsburg, VA

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Candle in window
... to a Hero
Learn more


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
 Summer School Series
 Be an Advocate!
 Organizing the File
 Letter Writing
 Back to School
 For Advocates
 For Parents
Success Stories

Law Library

IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints


Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites


Retention & FAPE:
What Does the Research Say?

Print this page

My son is in a special education Kindergarten program. When I went to a meeting at the school to plan for next year, I was told he does not qualify for placement in a regular first grade class. They say if he is promoted to first grade, he will flounder in a class with 24 children and one teacher and would not get any additional help.

The school wants to retain my child. They say they know what's best for him. I don't know what to do. Should I push to have him promoted and placed in a regular education class?

Wrightslaw Replies

It sounds like the school gave you information about your options in a way that ensured you would make the "right" decision (from the school's perspective).

You were told that your son would "flounder"? The school did not offer to provide the individualized services and supports that they are required to provide?

You may want to revisit this issue with your son's school team. It is not too late to change the plans for next year. But first, you need accurate information about retention.

Support from the National Association of School Psychologists

First, read this short article that summarizes retention issues.

Next, read the article about "Grade Retentiion - Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes" and the Position Statement from the National Association of School Psychologists. According to the National Association of School Psychologists, retention is not helpful and actually damages children.

National Association of School Psychologists. Grade Retention - Achievement and Mental Health Outcomes.

Sixth grade students rated grade retention as the single most stressful life event, higher than the loss of a parent or going blind. Retained students are less likely to receive a high school diploma by age 20, receive poorer educational competence ratings, and are less likely to be enrolled in any post-secondary education program. Retained students receive lower educational and employment status ratings and are paid less per hour at age 20.

National Association of School Psychologists. Retention and Promotion: A Handout for Parents (2007).

"Research does not support the notion that retention helps children to 'catch up' and that 'social promotion' - sending children on to the next grade regardless of performance – pushes children through the school system without requiring mastery of basic skills.”

National Association of School Psychologists. Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion (2003).

“The National Association of School Psychologists promotes the use of interventions that are effective and research-based and discourages the use of practices which, though popular or widely accepted, are neither not beneficial or are harmful to the welfare and educational attainment of America’s children and youth. Through many years of research, the practice of retaining children in grade has been shown to be ineffective in meeting the needs of children who are academically delayed.”

You should also read "Retention is Not the Answer" by a North Carolina school psychologist. This comprehensive article discusses retention and social promotion.

Don't forget to check our Retention & Social Promotion page for newly updated resources.

In light of the Position Statement from the National Association of School Psychologists, I hope the school psychologist will support you in revoking your decision.

Your Strategy

After you read these articles, think about the issues. From your letter, it sounds like your son needs individualized instruction so he can master the basic skills.

If you decide you do not want the school to retain your child, write a letter to the IEP team and ask them to meet with you before school begins to resolve this issue. Be sure to include copies of these articles from National Association of School Psychologists with your letter.

Good luck!

Learn About Retention & Social Promotion

Learn About IEPs

Learn About Free Appropriate Education (FAPE)

To Top

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!


Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

Copyright 1998-2014, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map

Check it Out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order

About the Book

To Order

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order

To Order

Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training

Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95