Holding children back to repeat a grade in the early primary years costs the state of North Carolina more than $167 million a year. A blog post at North Carolina’s Smart Start highlighting this statistic suggests that a new focus on aligning the curriculum between those early grades could help alleviate those costs by avoiding retention.
Which raises the question of whether retaining students in those early grades is a good or bad thing. The main research on the subject of grade retention (out of Chicago) has found that students who repeat a grade when they’re younger are not harmed. In fact, it’s a strategy that charter schools employ often — many charters hold back large chunks of their kindergarten and first grade students. In the older grades, retention can be a problem, but in the younger grades, it’s not uncommon for parents to push for their children to be held back if it seems they’re not ready for school.