Discipline problems rise when students repeat grade

DURHAM, N.C. — A new study by researchers at Duke University documented a ripple effect of behavioral problems in schools where students repeated a grade.

The research, published online Friday at Teachers College Record, looked at data from more than 79,000 students in 334 North Carolina middle schools.

In schools with high numbers of students who repeated a grade, there were more suspensions, substance abuse problems, fights and classroom disruptions. Researchers said the study indicates the decision to hold students back can have negative consequences for their classmates.

The Duke researchers said educators tend to focus on how individual students fare when they are held back. Just as important may be the question of how that decision affects other children, said Clara Muschkin, associate director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

The study’s authors examined data from the state’s public schools and looked at differences among those with older and retained students.

If 20 percent of children in seventh grade were older than their peers, for example, the chance that other students would commit an infraction or be suspended increased by 200 percent.

The study controlled for other factors that could explain the impact, including schools’ socioeconomic makeup and parents’ education level.

When there were more older and retained students present, discipline problems increased for all subgroups, but were particularly pronounced among white students and girls of all races.

“There’s a strong relationship here that we think is likely to be causal,” Muschkin said.

Holding failing students back has been advocated by critics of social promotion.

The study suggests that the practice has a negative school-wide impact, Muschkin said, and therefore educators should focus more on struggling students through tutoring, summer school and mentoring.

“Support for older and retained students is an investment in the achievement and climate of the entire school,” Muschkin said.

More in Local News

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Jogger unharmed after fending off attacker in Edmonds

Police released video of a man they believe to be the attacker.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Three teens arrested for Marysville school vandalism

Windows were broken and a trash bin was on fire Sunday night at a Marysville middle school.

Langley mayor threatens newspaper with lawsuit

The mayor threatened to sue the paper over claims he withheld public records disclosure information.

Divers called to recover body after train hits pedestrian

The accident was reported by a BNSF crew near Woods Creek in Monroe.

Marysville police send abandoned, unclaimed bikes to Zambia

“Out where we are, a bicycle is upward mobility,” said Kelly Huckaby, a missionary in Africa.

Most Read