What is “Best Practice” for Retaining a 10th Grader?

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What is “best practice” for retaining a student in 10th grade who has refused to attend school and whose eligibility is Emotionally Disturbed. He refuses medication sometimes, refuses to do anything at school when he does attend and the thought is that he may need to redo his 10th grade year.

But he can attend until he is 22 years old – why retain? Why not allow him to be a super senior?

There are no “best practices” for retaining students.

There is an abundance of research on retention that shows it doesn’t work – it’s a punitive policy that often damages children permanently.

Retention is one of the most powerful predictors of high school dropout, with retained students 2 to 11 times more likely to drop out of high school than promoted students. http://www.cdl.org/resource-library/articles/grade_retention.php

You say this student refuses to attend school, and refuses to do anything at school when he does attend.

  • When did these problems start?
  • What is causing school refusal?
  • Who thinks the boy should be retained?
  • How will retention fix the student’s problems?

Alternatives to Retention

Take a look at “Alternatives to Grade Retention” for other strategies.


Many kids who have school refusal problems have undiagnosed and/or untreated learning disabilities.

When learning problems are not identified and treated appropriately, kids become frustrated and develop emotional and behavioral problems.

You’ll find a topics page on Retention at Wrightslaw that has articles about retention and links to Position Papers from the National Association of School Psychologists and the American Federation of Teachers.


If you have a team that wants to recommend this student for retention, you may want to make copies of this information and provide it to the team members.

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