Study finds increased depression with grade retention

Discussion in 'General Education' started by EdEd, May 9, 2012.

  1. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 9, 2012

    It seems there are frequent discussions on the A2Z forum about retention, and I found this interesting when I came across it a few minutes ago. For those familiar with the literature, there is almost no empirical support for retention, either in the academic or behavioral areas. There are some exceptions to this, and of course empirical data suggests that no benefits are found on average, so it is possible that retention can benefit some students. However, as a whole, it does not appear to be a "best practice." This article supports that assertion, and adds some scary data suggesting that a certain group of kids experienced an elevated incidence of depressive symptoms after grade retention.

    Here's the Abstract:

    The article is entitled Grade Retention and Borderline Intelligence: The Social–Emotional Cost, is by Anne M. Ritzema & Steven R. Shaw, and was found in the School Psychology Forum (Volume 6, Issue 1, Spring 2012).
     
  2.  
  3. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Messages:
    917
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 9, 2012

    Interesting. I have two students who repeated sixth grade and then skipped seventh to move right on to eighth. One was displaying "more mature behavior" than peers (well, duh!) and the other was getting into fights constantly (I don't know why retaining and skipping would fix that). My vice principal casually discussed the idea of holding the second kid back again, and I know doing that will just set him up to fail. He'll be 16 and in eighth grade if he's held back. I can see why kids get depressed, it certainly isn't a positive situation to be in.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 9, 2012

    Hopefully your principal will resist the temptation :)
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    4,330
    Likes Received:
    572

    May 9, 2012

    Passing them along should be criminal. So it might, MIGHT, help Johnny feel better about himself, keep him off of Prozac and allow him to sit with kids his exact age. But it doesn't help him learn. Kids that are passed along are going to hit a wall in high school. High school isn't going to pass him just because he turned 16. So he repeats a class. And another class. And yet another, because he just doesn't know how to read, add or memorize facts.

    So NOW he gets depressed or starts to act out. Takes time and resources away from other students. Doesn't ever get a chance to get caught up because his teacher now has over 200 students a year to worry about instead of 25.
     
  6. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 9, 2012

    Unfortunately research suggests kids don't learn more by repeating grades. You are right in that simply promoting a child does not cause them to learn more, and might have its own side effects. However, research has been fairly clear that holding a child back does not result in increased academic achievement.
     
  7. lovebeingteach

    lovebeingteach Companion

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2012
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 9, 2012

    :(

    It really is hard on a kid, isn't it?
     
  8. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2011
    Messages:
    747
    Likes Received:
    143

    May 9, 2012

    so, holding them back isn't beneficial but neither is passing them along??!!! what is the solution then per the educational researchers? (assuming of course one is unable to catch the student up to his or her peers during the year that you have him/her).
     
  9. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,052
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 9, 2012

    Honestly, I don't think academic research is disciplined enough to make these kind of determinations, at least in the US.

    When you start out on any experiment, you have to control the independent variable in a consistent manner. The independent variable here is "retention/no retention". However, if you're looking at averages across multiple school systems, the numbers aren't meaningful because the average is based on ad hoc idiosyncratic decisions, not measured standards.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 10, 2012

    I'm not sure I understand your last sentence, but I do think it's a relatively easy area to assess as the independent and dependent variables are pretty clear. Independent variable is simply retention or no retention, and academic scores could be a number of things based on what academic assessment tools the district decides to use - preferably that's not grades as grades are more subject, but many districts now collect data such as oral reading fluency, which would very easily be able to be measured objectively.
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 10, 2012

    Exactly - neither really is :), and that's because neither are academic interventions that are linked to specific assessments of a child's academic functioning. So, the idea would be that a thorough assessment and intervention plan would need to be created, followed by planning for the setting in which the interventions would be delivered.

    Based on a few studies I've seen over the years, my understanding is that retention can have a positive impact, but it needs to be part of an overall plan of academic intervention. Simply holding a child back to repeat the same thing is not really considered to be an academic intervention.

    At the end of the day, even though there isn't often a statistically significant difference between groups of children who are retained or not in terms of academic and social achievement, it doesn't mean some random students haven't benefited, even within those studies. So, I think the appropriate way to consume this research is to say, "Retention is most likely not a good option, but if a situation came up in which we had strong reasons to believe it was, and that were different from a typical situation under which retention had been studied, we might at least discuss it." In other words, it might occasionally work, but it would probably be inappropriate for it to be a default option around this time of year for kids who were struggling and not in ESE/SPED.
     
  12. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    May 10, 2012

    You can find research to support any cause if you look hard enough. I believe that the way retention is handled by the parents and school is the greatest impact on the student. My son went to a transitional first class...he is not depressed or suffering....he is a senior that will graduate from high school next week with a 4.05 and 15 college hours (4.0 gpa on them)! He has won over $10,000 of scholarships for college next year. He won the top FFA award at the local level this year and won a state award for his small business. RESEARCH like this makes me mad...it does not look at other things in the child's life. My daughter was retained in kindergarten...she is bright, happy, straight A student, active in 4-H, and a joy to be around. EVERYONE loves her and she loves every one. She is not suffering from depression...will she ever? Maybe, my mother and I both have at points in our lives. But will that have anything to do with her being retained...NO, it is her genetic make-up.

    And for the record...my mother and I neither one were retained!
     
  13. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    499

    May 10, 2012

    I would say this is an excellent topic for researchers. Despite experimental difficulties, a researcher can study the population of students who've been held back and report on those data.

    Also, if retention does not have the desired effect, then it should be abandoned as an educational practice.



    Favorite Teacher Blogs:
    http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 10, 2012

    A few thoughts: first, that's great news that your kids are doing well! And yes, as I mentioned before, the research on retention does not mean that every single child will experience negative or neutral effects of retention. It suggests that, on a group level, it doesn't work. Also, I mentioned having found a few studies in which retention did offer some benefit to certain groups of kids, provided that retention occurred in a very specific way (i.e., along with a comprehensive support plan in which retention was an integrated, not isolated, strategy). In addition, the study I've linked here may not have looked at kids similar to yours, as the study involved children with lower levels of cognitive functioning. So, as I said before, I think the best response is probably not, "Never do it," but have a good reason why the massive body of research against retention doesn't apply in your particular case.

    More broadly, the belief that "you can find research to support any cause hard enough," followed by the dismissal of that research because it isn't in line with one's own beliefs, is extremely problematic. I do think that research needs to be critically consumed, meaning that limits should be understood. I also agree with you when you say that there probably is some study out there to support just about every position one could have. However, there is an enormous difference between finding and using an isolated study to support a position that is in clear contrast to the rest of the literature out there. This is not the case with retention. The vast majority of research out there is unsupportive, which means such research should be taken more seriously.
     
  15. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    499

    May 10, 2012

    This is really well said. I brought up a pile of research to my principal to show one of her mandates was baseless, but she just said, "You can find a study to prove any point of view." She wouldn't look at my evidence. She was only going to look at the data supplied by the sales person who convinced her to buy the bad testing program.




    Favorite Teacher Blogs:
    http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  16. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 10, 2012

    Thanks Tyler - there's definitely a need for the continued paradigm shift out there related to research. Too many folks don't understand it, how to consume it, or value it - especially in education. I don't think research should replace all components of professional/clinical decision-making, but it certainly should inform it, guide it, and - to the degree relevant - regulate it.
     
  17. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,815
    Likes Received:
    53

    May 10, 2012

    I value research, but I also believe that this issue has too many variables to rely on research. I don't appreciate being attacked when I disagree.

    I was offering two instances that differed from yours...I can offer 60 cases. I teach a class of students that are being retained. I have done it for 5 years. I see amazing results for my students...and I would say the majority of my parents belive that it is a positive situation for their child. I have tracked my students and have discovered that most are the top of their classes. In fact in our current third grade class, the 18 students that were placed in my room are all honor students. And the top readers, students, and test results came from those students.
     
  18. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    499

    May 11, 2012

    mrachelle,
    Please don't think you are being attacked. We're just a couple of geeks talking about research and trying to understand a tricky issue.

    You obviously have greater personal experience. Without your experiences, educators like me can just go on research.

    Mainly what we disagree upon is whether this issue can be studied in a meaningful way.

    Thank you for helping fragile kids make their way in the world.
     
  19. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 11, 2012

    The main complicating variable is that retention often happens in the context of other variables. In your case, it sounds like kids are being retained, but are also being provided with a high dose of supplemental instruction in your classroom. The argument is that retention itself is not the active ingredient, but the supplemental interventions happening in your classroom. For example, if kids were simply to be in the exact same classroom as the year before, with the exact same instruction, do you feel that your kids would have done as well, or do you think your strategies have something to do with it?

    I think a confusing part of the topic is that it can sound like I'm saying, "Every time retention happens, kids will end up in a bad situation." I'm not saying that kids who are retained always end up in a worse place academically, but I am saying that the singular aspect of simply having a child repeat a grade doesn't lead to academic progress, without the additional strategies/supports that folks like yourself provide along with it.

    I apologize for appearing to take a more personal approach toward disagreeing with your thoughts about research, and I think based on your clarification it sounds like you weren't arguing against research, but against this particular body of research because of the perceived limitations.
     
  20. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2012

    Odd that I am not depressed after thirty+ years in high school.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 11, 2012

    Another topic in which I have absolutely no background.

    But I wonder if they've done a similar study on kids who "should" have been retained but didn't, and struggled academically. You know the kids I mean-- the ones who didn't have the necessary skills for first grade, and as a result struggled with reading until they either graduated or dropped out.

    Are they also depressed?

    Or is there a study out there showing that they eventually DO "catch up"? To me, something along these lines would be a more convincing case against retention.

    Also, the original abstract involves "142 children ages 6–17 with intelligence test scores between 71 and 85. " Is there a way of distinguishing between depression at being retained vs depression at having a lower than average IQ?


    Finally, how are these kids feeling 5 years later? 10 years later? At some point do they start to feel good about themselves or does this depression follow them for life?


    Not disputing the study, just wondering about the validity of conclusions based on such limited data. Thirty two of 142 of those kids were retained... is that enough from which to draw any sort of conclusion?
     
  22. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 11, 2012

    Reasearch:thinking::boilmakers:driving
     
  23. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6,196
    Likes Received:
    2,125

    May 11, 2012

    Seems your school is very different than most traditional public schools when it comes to retention. You talked about your son going to a transtional next grade. That is very different than a random kid or 2 having to re-do a grade. Transitional classes and envrionments where you ability track a group of kids allows for a different program to be developed for them, especially in early grades between K and 1. If nothing different is needed, then what would be the purpose of a transitional class or an ability grouped class other than to point out those less successful (which I don't believe is the motivation for it).

    As most people said, the problem with retention is often a different program isn't provided. The kids are behind and no extra attention or varied instruction is given. Most here are saying when a different program is not provided and kids are just doing another year of the same, results aren't seen and according to the research they become depressed.

    Seems as if your son's transitional program and your schools ability grouping would allow for more directed help. Seems the programs you are discussing is what most here are saying is the only way retention might help.
     
  24. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 11, 2012

    Excellent questions! First, your comment about "should have been retained" is probably a loaded question, as it assumes a benefit of retention. With rephrasing to, "Do students in need of academic remediation also suffer depressive symptoms when provided no remediation," the study addressed this issue by including a control group:

    Results indicated that retained children differed significantly from non-retained students in the following scores related to depression on the BASC-II, with scores above 70 being considered a "clinically significant" indication of behaviors in the area of depression:

    Parent Rating (Retained): 72.3
    Parent Rating (Non-Retained): 48.5

    Teacher Rating (Retained): 71.7
    Teacher Rating (Non-Retained): 46.9

    Self-Report Rating (Retained): 66
    Self-Report Rating (Non-Retained): 52.6

    Follow-up data conducted a year after the scores above were collected, the same trends were observed.

    The evidence shows that they do not. Several meta-analyses have been conducted examining a wide range of studies, and while some studies indicated a slight initial improvement, those kids ended up at or below original levels of achievement in subsequent years. I'll quote a part of the article I originally referenced:

    Indeed. If depression were simply a function of having lower than average IQ, the expectation would be that all children in the study with lower than average intelligence would show elevated symptoms of depression before, during, and after retention. This was not the case, as none of the groups (retention or non-retention) demonstrated elevated symptoms of depression before retention, while only children retained demonstrated symptoms after, with all children in the study demonstrating lower than average intelligence.

    While the present study did not go beyond one year post-retention, other data indicate future problems with social-emotional functioning, even years beyond retention. See the second paragraph in my longer (2-paragraph) article quote above for data about elevated incidence of aggression years after retention. In addition, the following were observed (again, this quote is from the original article):



    In general, the smaller the sample size, the larger the effects/differences need to be to determine a statistically significant difference between groups. Unfortunately the article doesn't go into details in this area (it probably should have), but the differences in mean between the retention and non-retention groups are so large and clear that my guess is such requirements were met. For example, the depression scores listed above for retention students were roughly 2 standard deviations above non-retained students. Had that difference been smaller, sample size may be more of an issue.

    Still, a valid question, and the lack of inclusion of a discussion of this is certainly a weakness.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 11, 2012

    I'm on the run, and don't have time to really read what you wrote beyond the first few sentences.

    Again, I'm someone with no real background here (my brother was retained in Kindergarten, in 1966. Beyond that, I'm totally out of my element.) I probably should have phrased it as "someone who could have qualified for retention."
     
  26. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 11, 2012

    We've had this discussion before TeachOn. I suppose this thread isn't helpful to you if you don't find an underlying value in well-done research.
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 11, 2012

    Well, you may have no background, but you certainly asked some good questions!
     
  28. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,320
    Likes Received:
    499

    May 11, 2012

  29. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 11, 2012

  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    May 11, 2012

    Between 18 years of teaching debate and 26 years of teaching math, reports like this tend to intrigue me.

    I'm teaching my sophomores proofs in an attempt to teach them how to determine whether or not an argument makes logical sense. What I should probably do one of these days is bring in a synopsis of a study along these lines and pick it apart. Not because of any broader implications, but simply to show them it's possible.
     
  31. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 12, 2012

    Right, we have; and, right, I do not. Hence the brevity. Enjoy ( I mean that.), but delay implementation pending further, ideally endless, research. Meanwhile, common sense will suffice for the actual business of the day.
     
  32. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    229

    May 12, 2012

    Isn't this just one study, not a body of research?
     
  33. CanukTeach

    CanukTeach Companion

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2010
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 12, 2012

    I'm curious is this a co-relation or did they prove causation? If a student is retained there are most likely other things that are not great (not just what grade they are in). Would you find similar rates among students who are really struggling in their grade because they weren't retained?
     
  34. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 14, 2012

    Sounds like a cool project :)
     
  35. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 14, 2012

    The research on retention broadly is a body of research, but yes - this thread is just about one study in particular.
     
  36. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 14, 2012

    Causation, in that it was an experimental design because they had a control group that controlled for everything but retention. In other words, if two groups are measured before and after an intervention, and everything but the intervention is the same, any observed effect after intervention is thought to be a causal relationship. On the other hand, if there were no control group, it would be correlational.

    To answer your last question, this study examined children who you mention - children who were struggling in the same way, but weren't retained, any found no elevated levels of depression.
     
  37. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 14, 2012

    A recent triple-blind study - no one, not even the researchers, knew what was going on, and all data was destroyed to preserve the integrity of the results - studied the relationship between blueeyedness (cyanobulbusoculism) and behavior. The results, posted on healthguidance.org, are below:

    "Blue eyes are highly common despite being a recessive gene. At the same time they vary greatly from a 'piercing' blue, to a softer more gentle blue. This eye colour is thought to be very desirable and alluring and is also associated with youthfulness (possibly due to the term 'baby blue') and with this comes playfulness and innocence. Piercing blue eyes are thought to be very sexy and striking (think Superman), while the lighter colours are thought to be more mesmerising and calm. Interestingly though, studies have correlated blue eyes (along with blonde hair) with a slightly lower confidence and self esteem and lower levels of aggression. Intriguingly recent research also suggests that all blue eyed people have a single common ancestor from 16,000 years ago when the very first mutation took place. Before this, we were all thought to have had brown eyes."

    I have a vague, atavistic, perhaps mythic recollection of having once had brown eyes. Any Jungians out there? Other metempsychosic researchers?

    As for the main study, think of the opportunities here for further educopsychobehavioral research! The implications for the differentiated instruction of oculochromally disadvantaged students alone are eyeboggling.
     
  38. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    May 14, 2012

    Cute, TeachOn, but not eye-opening, at least in the sense you intended.

    The article actually exists, at http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/13545/1/What-Your-Eye-Color-Tells-About-You.html; the paragraph quoted is entirely representative of the level to which the article cites its sources, however, which in turn correlates neatly with the extent to which it can be said to be representative of research - or to support the point you're laboring to make. It is itself no study, nor does it mention triple-blind studies.

    (The term "cyanobulbusoculism" makes me wince. It would have to refer to a condition in which the eyeball (bulbus oculi) itself is blue. What's colored is, of course, the iris. (The mixture of Greek and Latin in the same word doesn't help matters, but that's a boundary more often flouted than not: cf. television.) On analogy with heterochromia iridis, an existing term that denotes the condition of having irises of different colors, I might grant cyanochromia iridis. But some idiot's going to find your post, and decide that awful word really exists, and that's revolting.)
     
  39. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 14, 2012

    Yeah, I built the whole thing around that silly blurb I found on blue eyes at the site you mention. I also made up a few words out of roots I know. I hope it was fun.

    Anyone who takes my post seriously deserves the misinformation he reaps.
     
  40. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,769
    Likes Received:
    233

    May 14, 2012

    I appreciate the humor, and have used examples of correlations before when teaching about research, such as that men with beards tend to be happier, which of course points out that correlation is not the same as causation.

    I'm guessing you're just injecting a bit of humor to lighten the mood, rather than using your post to question the validity of research in education.
     
  41. TeachOn

    TeachOn Habitué

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    0

    May 15, 2012

    Half and half: I do question the usefulness and overemphasis, as I see it, on research in education. If I had to choose one purpose for this particular post, though, it would be the fun of it.

    I have to say also that I very much admire your earnestness and that I think you come by your ideas honestly. Kudos.
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. miss-m
Total: 276 (members: 1, guests: 247, robots: 28)
test