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For Immediate Release
Friday, June 9, 2006
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Report Shows Retained Students On Average Missed About Five Weeks of School

MALDEN - Students who repeated a grade last year missed an average of more than five weeks of school in 2003-2004, and an average of just under 25 days in 2004-2005, according to a new Department of Education report analyzing retention rates statewide.

In contrast, students who were not retained either year missed an average of less than two weeks, or about nine days, each year. Students are retained, or held back, when they do not complete their school’s requirements to move to the next grade.

“Students are not going to learn if they don’t show up for school, it’s as simple as that,” said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. “Missing five weeks of school sets students back academically, and makes it virtually impossible for them to progress to the next grade, on time, with their peers.”

In all, 2.6 percent of all students in grades 1-12 were retained during the 2004-2005 school year. This means that of the 882,956 students in grades 1 through 12, nearly 23,000 were enrolled in a grade for the second year in a row.

This rate has been consistent since the 2002-2003 school year, when 23,551 students were retained, and has only gone up slightly over time. Two percent of the 757,737 students enrolled in grades 1-12 were retained during the 1994-1995 school year

Retention rates in 2004-2005 ranged from a low of 0.6 percent in grade five to a high of 8.1 percent in grade 9. About 72 percent of schools with more than 75 students had a retention rate below the state rate.

Virtually every student who repeated a grade in which the MCAS was administered did the same or better on the exams the second time around than they did the first time they were tested. In all, 91 percent did the same or better on MCAS than they had the previous year.

High schoolers did especially well in earning their competency determination when repeating the grade. Just 2.7 percent of 10th graders who were retained in 2004-2005 had their CD by the end of the 2003-2004 school year, and 50.7 percent had earned it by the end of their second year as sophomores.

“For some students, an extra year of schooling is precisely what they need,” said Driscoll. “Some mature faster than others, or just need more time to absorb the material being taught. When students are retained for the right reasons, they get time to grow so they can move forward at their own speed.”

Other findings include:

  • Among retained students, 8.2 percent had also been retained in the 2003-2004 school year.
  • Minority students were retained at a higher rate than White students: 5.9 percent of Black students, 6 percent of Hispanic students and 1.7 percent of White students were retained in the 2004-2005 school year.
  • A higher percentage of special education students were retained (5.2 percent) than general education students (2.1 percent). Low income students were retained at a higher rate (5.2 percent) than non-low income students (1.6 percent). Limited English proficient students had a higher retention rate (6.3 percent) than non-LEP students (2.4 percent.)
  • Students attending a charter school were retained at a higher rate (4.1 percent) than students attending a traditional public school (2.6 percent).

To review the full report Download PDF Document  Download MS WORD, look online at

Last Updated: June 9, 2006
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