First- Through Eighth-Grade Retention Rates for All 50 States: A New Method and Initial Results

John Robert Warren, Jim saliba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


How many students repeat a grade each year? How do retention rates vary across states and over time? Despite extensive research on the predictors and consequences of grade retention, there is no systematic way to quantify state-level retention rates; even national estimates rely on imperfect proxy measures. We present a conceptually simple method-based on publicly available data that are routinely collected each year-that describes retention rates at the state and national levels. After describing and validating this method, we use it to report first- through eighth-grade public school retention rates for 2002-2003 through 2008-2009 for the entire country and for each state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)320-329
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article was prepared for presentation at the May 2012 Annual Meetings of Population Association of America in San Francisco. This project benefited from support provided by the Institute for Education Sciences through an Interdisciplinary Education Sciences Training Grant (R305C050059). We are also very grateful to Amelia Corl and Abby Hagel for their efforts on earlier iterations of this work, and to Megan Andrew and several anonymous reviewers for useful feedback and suggestions. However, errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.


  • descriptive analysis
  • educational policy
  • measurements
  • retention
  • secondary data analysis
  • sociology


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