Volume 6, Issue 1 (Spring 2012)
Grade Retention and Borderline Intelligence: The Social–Emotional Cost
Anne M. Ritzema & Steven R. Shaw
ABSTRACT: This retrospective study examines the impact of grade retention in a sample of students with borderline intellectual functioning. Data were collected as part of a 7-year study of 142 children ages 6–17 with intelligence test scores between 71 and 85. Thirty-two students in the study were retained in the second or third year of the study. A comparison group matched on gender, grade, and school grades was formed from the larger sample. The groups were indistinguishable in terms of their reported social–emotional and behavioral functioning. The results indicate that following retention there were no significant differences in academic performance between the retained and nonretained groups. However, the retained group was reported to experience significantly more depressive symptoms than the nonretained group. Following grade retention, 26 of the 32 retained students had depression scores above the clinical cut off. One year after grade retention, students in the retained group continued to have high levels of depressive symptoms. These results are discussed in the context of existing grade retention research, and implications for students with borderline intellectual functioning are considered.