Degree Name

Education Specialist (EdS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Donald W. Smitley


The purposes of the study were to investigate student retention policies and practices in selected elementary schools in the Beecher City, Illinois, area and to develop a proposed school retention policy for the Beecher City School District where the author was employed as an emementary school principal. The issue of student retention has been debated across the country for decades. The review of literature and research found mixed evidence concerning the effectiveness of student retention. Since retention is an age-old practice, an historical review of literature was included to inform the reader of progression of the practice of retention in schools. After investigating the respondents' retention practices, the author developed a policy on retention for the Beecher City School District.

Information on student retention practices and policies was collected through the development of a survey document that was sent to 42 elementary principals in the Beecher City, Illinois, area. Thirty-four principals returned the questionnaire for an 81% response rate. Schools whose principals answered the survey had a combined enrollment of 10,380.

Results showed that a very low number of students were retained in the schools whose principals responded to the survey. A larger number of boys were retained than girls, and a large number of schools retained no students. Results also showed that a high number of students receiving free lunch were retained. Less than one-half of the surveyed schools had developed a policy on retention. With a remarkably low number of students retained, most retentions were the result of a philosophy or guidelines.

Fewer than 50% of the schools surveyed had a formal policy. Schools without a formal policy followed essentially the same procedures as those with a formal policy. Approximately one-third of the principals thought that retention led to later academic success. Only 18% of the principals surveyed believed that the teacher should make the final decision on retention.

The review of literature for the study revealed that most educators disagree with the practice of retention. Results of this study indicated slightly more than half of the principals favored retention, however 36% of the principals responding to the survey indicated that they believed that little academic progress was achieved by retaining a student.

Finally, as a result of information received from the completed questionnaires, a retention policy for Beecher City Unit School District #20 was developed by the author. The policy was presented to the Beecher City Unit 20 Curriculum and Policy Committee for adoption.