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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Action Research Project-Retention and T1

Action Research Project
Stacy Williams
Academic Progress from Retention and Transitional 1st Programs

Setting the Foundation
During meetings with site mentors and teachers the issue of whether Transitional 1st or traditional retention leads to improved academic performance in the long term was a concern.  The focus of this research is to gain insight on the effectiveness of both retention and a Transitional 1st program at an early age such as Kindergarten through 2nd grade. The focus of this action research revolves around this question: What is the relationship between students who were part of a Transitional-First Grade (T1) class or retained in elementary and their success at the end of middle school or in high school?  

Analyzing Data

I will use data from permanent grade cards, class rankings, and surveys as well as internet searches on the topic of retention and Transitional 1st.  Teachers, administration, and parents want evidence to weigh when deciding if T1 is a proper place for their students, the program to continue, and/or if an extra year produces a better long term achievement result.

From initial literature review, findings include that an extra academic year does not provide increased achievement compared to a student’s pier group at matriculation from high school.  However, increases in achievement were noted in the short term.  While initial qualitative data from teachers in our school includes a positive outlook, the goal of this study is to see if the quantitative data or research matches the qualitative data. This information from parents and students will be an additional valued source.

Developing Deeper Understanding

To better understand the viewpoints of the key stakeholders, surveys are planned to find out their thoughts and opinions of the results of retention or Transitional 1st and the effects it has had on their performance as a student or their child’s performance if they are a parent. Do parents and students think the extra year provided maturity that was necessary to maintain focus on class or was the academic year a  “catch-up” that was needed to stay on track. The survey results will help me gain a clearer picture of parent and student views and how performance in school was affected.

Engaging in Self-Reflection

As I acquire and prepare data I may find variables in the data that may affect the results of my research. I may have to revise my plan or add other methods of gathering data.  I plan to continue to collaborate and discuss the progress of the research with my site administrator, other administrators, and teachers.  I expect other questions to arise as I research and analyze data.  How does being older in the class affect other areas in the school environment such as athletics or other extra-curricular activities? Does late entry have the same results?

Exploring Programmatic Patterns

Throughout the research process, I will discuss my findings with my site supervisor to solicit her opinions concerning the positives and negatives of the research.  I will seek her collaboration and guidance if improvements to the research and if any modifications of the research are necessary. By communicating the progress, it will help ensure my action research plan stays on track and is effectively completed. 

Determining Direction

The purpose of this study is to determine if an extra year by retention or a Transitional 1st leads to greater student achievement at the end of middle school and high school.  The main goal of this study is greater student achievement and to determine the perception of retention and Transitional 1st programs.  When students fall behind in achievement, their overall perception of themselves and their ability for success is at risk. The research gathered from the state test score data, class rankings, surveys, and internet literature research will be compared.   Through collaboration with administration and teachers we will determine if any fine-tuning is needed to provide the desired information. The timeline is five months to collect data, analyze, and share it.  Plan progress will be closely monitored and any part of the plan can be revised and improved based on these observations.

Taking Action for School Improvement

Collaboration with administrators and teachers will help me stay focused to complete the action research study.  The Harris et al. text, Tool 7.1 Action Planning Template, p. 85 will be used to guide the implementation of the research project.  As the data is collected, I will format it into charts, graphs, and summarize the finding into a final paper.

Sustain Improvement

A summary report will be created outlining the results of the action research project and will be shared with administrators and school staff.  Any result, whether positive or negative, will be shared so the results can influence and/or encourage the decisions of individual students’ retention or Transitional 1st program needs.  This decision may result in justification for the reinstatement of the Transitional 1st program and Title 1 funds being allocated toward this program. On the contrary, if there is not strong support, allocation of funds may be directed toward tutoring programs.


  1. Stacy, this is a very interesting topic. I've never taught at the elementary level, and I don't know much about retention at that age. I do, however, have some experience with students retained in 8th and not being able to transition to high school with their peers. But, it may be very different from retention in Kindergarten or First grade.
    Here are some questions that I had after reading your action plan:
    On average, how many students are typically retained in K/1st grade?
    Are there other factors that could be present for these students, like a possible learning disability identified later in school?
    This is a great topic for producing additional wonderings!

  2. This is a good topic, Stacy. I'm interested to see what your study produces. I work on a fifth and sixth grade campus and students can not be retained more than one time between grades Kindergarten - sixth grade. This becomes a challenge when a student was retained in K or 1st and they are not academically progressing in fifth or sixth grade. We have no choice but to move them along to the next grade...whether they are prepared or not.

  3. This is a great topic because i am a high school teacher and I would recommend that all kids should be retained at a young age We have too many 17 year old kids graduating that are smart, but not ready for the challenges of going to college. I also have a special education son that was retained in the sixth grade for academic reasons and it was the best thing for him because the extra year allowed him too relearn and master ideas that were crucial in his development in junior and high school. I see too many kids in the high school that were not retained in elementary and passed along and are struggling to be successful in high school.

  4. Stacy, I have taught at the elementary level a long time, and it never seems to amaze me how struggling students don't get the necessary grounding that prepares them for successful school years in the future. Because they are young, sometimes the decision is made to move them on. I feel like if the intervention is caught early enough then the stacking of unlearned knowledge is not against them by the time they are in the middle years of elementary grades. I am a firm believer in retention at an early age and will be curious of what your research brings. My blog is if you want to comment on mine! :)

  5. As a middle school teacher, I am a little unfamiliar with retention at younger grade levels. However, from experience in 6-8 and high school, I believe that if the student can be persuaded to see the benefits of retention it can be the best thing to ever happen to them. This may prove to be more difficult with younger students, but may also have the same effect if presented to the student in the right way. This might be part of the research you are doing. However, it might be difficult to find each student and determine if they were in favor of the retention or not.

  6. Interesting my high school, I know of a few students who were held back for one reason or another. However, there is a stigma that goes along with it, but it would be nice to be able to back up the effectiveness of holding someone back if needed. I hope it's out there! Looking forward to hearing what you find...