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Exploring Grade Retention Policy

Title: Exploring Grade Retention Policy: A Case Study of How Elementary School Administrators and Teachers Make Sense of School District Grade Retention Policy.
Name(s): Phillips, Joi N., author
Rutledge, Stacey A., professor directing dissertation
Brower, Ralph S., university representative
Iatarola, Patrice, committee member
Jones, Tamara Bertrand, committee member
Florida State University, degree granting institution
College of Education, degree granting college
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, degree granting department
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2015
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource (147 pages)
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Grade retention has long been at the center of education debates (Rothstein, 1998). Despite the overwhelming evidence of the negative effect of retention on student's self-esteem (Holmes and Matthews, 1984), attitude towards school (Jimerson, 2001), and increased likelihood of dropping out of high school (Roderick, 1994; Jimerson, Anderson, and Whipple, 2002), it is still difficult to promote students who do not have a mastery of the curriculum content of their current grade. But it is not just content mastery that is in question, there are other factors that make a student more likely to be retained. Students who are Black, male, and come from a low socioeconomic background (Bali, Anagnostopoulos, and Roberts, 2005; Meisels and Liaw, 1993) have an increased likelihood of being retained. Based on what we know about who is impacted the most by retention and the effects of retention on students, it is important to understand how grade retention policy is understood by those who are tasked with enforcing it. Two schools in a rural school district in Florida participated in this case study analysis. Twelve elementary school teachers and three school leaders provided a deeper understanding of how they have made sense of their school district's grade retention policy. The framework developed by Spillane, Reiser, and Reimer's (2002) informed this study. This framework breaks down sense-making into three categories: individual knowledge and beliefs, collective sense-making, and external pressures. The findings revealed that from the outset participants worked within the framework of external pressures. How participants individually and collectively made sense of grade retention policy was nested in the context of pressures within and surrounding the policy. Participants reported that prior experiences were an important influence in how they made sense of policy individually. If participants had a personal experience with retention they said this contributed to their understanding of and subsequent reaction to the policy. All participants reported making their decisions about retention in a context and culture of collaboration. Participants collaborated with each other on everything from intervention strategies to making final decisions on who should be retained.
Identifier: FSU_2015fall_Phillips_fsu_0071E_12905 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2015.
Date of Defense: October 27, 2015.
Keywords: Florida Policy, Grade Retention, Grade Retention Policy, School District Policy
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Stacey Rutledge, Professor Directing Dissertation; Ralph Brower, University Representative; Patrice Iatarola, Committee Member; Tamara Bertrand Jones, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Education and state
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Phillips, J. N. (2015). Exploring Grade Retention Policy: A Case Study of How Elementary School Administrators and Teachers Make Sense of School District Grade Retention Policy. Retrieved from