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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Report Shows Retained Students Performed Better On MCAS The Second Time

MALDEN - Virtually every student who repeated a grade during the 2003-2004 school year did the same or better on the MCAS exam than they did the first time they were tested, according to a new Department of Education report analyzing retention rates statewide.

In all, 94 percent of the retained students who were tested both years did the same or showed some improvement in 2004 over their 2003 MCAS performance.

“These results make clear that an extra year of schooling is exactly what certain students need,” said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. “When students are retained for the right reasons, they get time to grow so they can move forward at their own speed.”

In all, 2.6 percent (23,098 students) of the 887,175 students enrolled in grades one through 12 in the 2003-2004 school year were retained and repeating a grade.

This rate is the same as in 2002-2003, when 23,551 students were retained. In 1995 2 percent (16,213) of the 757,737 students enrolled in grades one through 12 were retained.

Retention rates in 2004 ranged from a low of 0.6 percent in grade five to a high of 8 percent in grade nine. Students are retained when they do not complete the school’s requirements to move to the next grade.

“Students should not be passing from one grade to the next simply because they’ve completed the school year. In the end, that benefits no one,” Commissioner Driscoll said. “The fact is that some students need more than 12 years.”

Other findings include:

  • Among ethnic groups, 1.7 percent of White students were retained, as were 2.4 percent of Asians, 3.7 percent of Native Americans and 5.8 percent of African Americans and Hispanics.
  • At 17.1 percent, ninth grade African-American students were retained at the highest rate. No fifth grade Native American students were retained.
  • As has been the case for the past five years, more male students were retained than females. In all, 3.1 percent of males were held back, as compared to 2.1 percent of females.
  • Limited English Proficient students were retained at a higher rate than non-LEP students: 5.7 percent of LEP students were retained, as compared to 2.5 percent of non-LEP students.
  • Five percent of low-income students were retained, as compared to 1.7 percent of non-low income students.

The average retention rates in most cities and towns fell below five percent, with the exception of a handful of large communities, including Boston, Springfield, Chelsea and Revere.

View the full report, including district results: Download PDF  Download MS WORD

Last Updated: April 5, 2005
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