Middle school teachers' perceptions of grade level retention

Jacqueline Cathey, Tennessee State University


The purpose of this study was to examine middle school teachers' perceptions of grade level retention within a rural school district in Tennessee. Grade Retention places a student in a younger peer group and lowers the academic expectations and challenges for the student. The practice of grade retention has been a controversial issue in schools for the past 100 years (Lange, 2004), and this practice has continued to increase over the past 30 years due to teachers' perceptions about grade retention. This was a descriptive study in which a 25-item survey was administered to certified, full-time tenured teachers in a rural school district in Tennessee. The questionnaire provided information regarding middle school teachers' perceptions of the practice of grade level retention. The demographic aspect of this research was based on age, gender, years of teaching experience, grade level taught, educational level, ethnicity, and highly qualified status. Of the four null hypotheses tested in this study, Null Hypotheses 1, 3 and 4 were rejected because statistically significant differences or relationships were found among some or all of the variables examined. The results of this study also revealed that the experienced and older teachers were more reluctant to retain students. Therefore, educators' perceptions of grade level retention take into consideration its impact on children's self-esteem and the need for involvement from every stakeholder in the retention decision process. However, the problem of students' underachievement at all grade levels, from middle school to college, should not be considered resolved. First, not all teachers agree or disagree on every aspect questioned in this study. Second, the government guidelines to measure student success based on lack of economic support did not seem to be reflected in the results of this research study. Third, some teachers could be more dedicated to their profession than others and therefore, they could be willing to help students succeed. In addition, as long as some schools are measured by test scores, teachers will teach to the test and concentrate on testing rather than the students.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Jacqueline Cathey, "Middle school teachers' perceptions of grade level retention" (2015). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3709206.