Does repeating a grade help or hurt kids?
Friday, May 2, 2008 4:37 PM

The scripts are available for printing and for sound bite identification.

Go to http://www.wichita.edu/newsline to get the current Wichita State University Newsline. If you cannot access the Newsline at the Web address above, contact Joe Kleinsasser at (316) 978-3013 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu. Newsline cuts may be edited to suit your needs. If you have additional questions for McDowell after listening to the WSU Newsline, please contact her at (316) 978-3322 or kim.mcdowell@wichita.edu.


Does repeating a grade help or hurt kids? Wichita State University early childhood educator Kim McDowell looks at the pros and cons on today's newsline.

Voice wrap:

Announcer: If a 5-year-old boy is struggling in kindergarten, should he repeat the grade next year? Kim McDowell, an early childhood educator at Wichita State University, says there are a number of arguments for repeating a grade, while others say repeating a grade is ineffective. And McDowell says the number of variables can make the decision difficult.

McDowell: "One of the challenges we have, in terms of interpreting the research, are the number of confounding variables that are present anytime you examine children. We are not only looking at school environments and school characteristics, but also the child's family life, as well as individual characteristics within the child."

Announcer: McDowell says, according to research, if you choose to have your child repeat a grade, it's best to do it early, while the child is still in kindergarten. This is Joe Kleinsasser at Wichita State University.

Sound bite #1

McDowell says the effectiveness of grade retention is still up for debate. The sound bite is 13 seconds and the outcue is "later years."

McDowell: "The effectiveness of grade retention is still up for debate. Educators are debating whether or not it's effective, when you should do it, when you should not do it and the impact on later years."

Sound bite #2

McDowell cites the arguments for repeating a grade. The sound bite is 20 seconds and the outcue is "social interactions."

McDowell: "Some educators argue that grade retention is beneficial to students. Some cite evidence of increased maturity levels, increased self-esteem due to success with the curriculum because it's a repeated exposure. And other educators also indicate that repeating a grade is effective for social interactions."

Sound bite #3

McDowell says repeating a grade is ineffective, according to some research. The sound bite is 22 seconds and the outcue is "high school dropout."

McDowell: "There has been considerable research in the area of grade retention stemming back from the '60s and '70s, and all of the research indicates at this point that retaining a child in a grade is ineffective in terms of catching the child up academically. It also has been shown to have negative effects on social, emotional interactions, as well as an increased likelihood of high school dropout."

Sound bite #4

McDowell says a parent would be wise to get multiple perspectives before deciding whether a child should repeat a grade or move on to the next one. The sound bite is 22 seconds and the outcue is "day-care provider."

McDowell: "As a parent, if you have concerns about your child's readiness to enter into formal education or your child's ability to succeed in the next grade, I would encourage parents to get multiple perspectives and to talk to individuals who see the child in varying contexts and structured environments, such as the teacher, a preschool teacher or a daycare provider."

Sound bite #5

McDowell says if you decide to have a child repeat a grade, it's best to do it early, when the child is in kindergarten. The sound bite is 21 seconds and the outcue is "of preschool."

McDowell: "One of the things that we know from the research is that if you are considering retaining a child, the best time to do that is early on. And by early I mean kindergarten. Some parents even opt for a better option, which is to delay enrollment into formal education by having the child go through another year of preschool."

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Contact: Joe Kleinsasser at (316) 978-3013 or joe.kleinsasser@wichita.edu.