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Knowledge From the Field

Early Grade Retention and Student Success: Evidence From Los Angeles

Published: March 2011

Publisher(s): Public Policy Institute of California

Author(s): Cannon, Jill S.; Stephen Lipscomb

Funder(s): William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

View Report (24 pages; 1.62MB; PDF)

Early Grade Retention and Student Success

Area of Focus: Early Learning; Low-Performing Schools


The report examines retention patterns for early elementary students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, risk factors for retention, effectiveness in improving grade-level skills, principalsí attitudes toward retention, and policy implications.

Key Findings and/or Recommendations

=In Los Angeles Unified School District, 7.5 percent of students are retained before the third grade, although retention rates vary across schools, even across schools with similar student populations.

=Students entering school at relatively young ages, boys, children from low-income families, English learners, and Latinos are significantly more likely to be retained in a K-2 grade; having multiple risk factors predicts a much higher likelihood of retention.

=Students who repeat the first or second grade can achieve meaningful gains in grade-level skills in the repeated year.

Focus: Los Angeles Unified School District

Subjects/Keywords: Early Elementary Education; English Learner; Low-Income; Retention

+ Successful strategy
= Observation
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