Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1993


The purpose of this study was to uncover the feelings and reactions of students and their parents in regard to the nonpromotion experience. Families with children who had been retained at least once in grades one through eight were purposefully selected as units of study from one of four area school systems. A total of 52 family members from 22 family units participated in 46 separate, qualitative interviews. The information collected from the interviews was inductively analyzed. Building upon Schlossberg's theory for human adaptation to transitions, seven factors or coping resources emerged from the data that affected the adaptation of a parent or a student to a grade level retention. These factors fell into one of three categories--the characteristics of the individual, the characteristics surrounding the transition (the retention), and the characteristics of the individual's environment. The analysis revealed the following seven coping resources: self-definition of an individual, previous experience with retention, retention philosophy of the individual, feelings of empowerment connected to the retention decision, retention rationale or reason for the retention, sense of belonging to the school community, and support systems available to the individual. From the findings, the investigator reached the following conclusions: (1) regardless of their initial feelings toward a retention decision, most students, as well as other family members, eventually assimilated a nonpromotion experience; (2) the seven identified coping resources influenced the success of an individual's adaptation to a retention experience; (3) school personnel did little to initially prepare a child for a nonpromotion and generally offered little support to aid adaptation to the retention; (4) the relationships an educator developed with family members were essential in establishing a sense of trust and of cooperation between the home and the school; (5) school systems rarely provided parents of children in grades one through eight with the strategies necessary to academically aid a child within the home environment; (6) adherence to rigid, grade level curriculum placed undue stress on many students and their families, inadvertently reinforcing the acceptance of the practice of retention by parents and by students.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted