Light's Rentention Scale | Grade Retention Scale

Light's Retention Scale

A research-based tool that lets you and your staff make informed decisions.

More than One Million students have been helped with LRS

Grade Retention PROS and CONS

Although most educational and psychological research confirms that grade retention is rarely a positive intervention, there are some children that do better if they are retained. For these students, retention is both necessary and beneficial. Determining if grade retention will be a positive or negative intervention may be difficult for the parents. However, the LRS will assist the family in adapting to the decision. What is perhaps more important is that the principal can help to insure that the educational opportunities available during the retention year are appropriate and are implemented with fidelity.

These pros and cons are common statements issued by fellow educators about the subject of retention in general.


  • The retained child is removed from a situation in which he is continually embarassed by his poor performance and is therefore more likely to feel better about himself and to experience success if he repeats a grade.
  • If a slow learner is socially promoted, he will hold back the rest of the class.
  • Students who are not able to meet the minimum grade level requirement should not be placed in the next higher grade where they would confront an even more difficult academic program than the one they had just failed.
  • Promoting a child who has not earned that placement does not prepare him for the competitive, demanding world he will face as an adult.
  • The child who is immature will benefit from additional time in which to mature socially and intellectually.
  • Promoting children who have failed is unfair to students who have worked hard for their promotion.
  • Since the NCLB act has made it difficult for a teacher to use a program of individualized instruction, younger students will benefit by being given time to learn the basics of reading and mathematics.


  • If children are not promoted universally, the lower grades will “fill up” with slow learners through retention.
  • Retention adds greatly to the taxpayers’ already heavy burden because the cost to the taxpayer of having a child repeat a grade is much greater than the gains the child may make.
  • Grade placement is best made according to chronological age since children tend to achieve more with their peers than with younger or older children.
  • Educational research indicates that children who have “failed” a grade would have learned more had they been promoted to the next grade.
  • Retention does not reduce the range of academic achievement in any particular classroom and, in fact, usually creates even greater differences among classmates.
  • Research on grade retention has shown that this particular practice results in a negative impact on a child’s social and emotional development.

For a full review of the literature, see the Light’s Retention Scale Manual.

what color am i?