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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Phyllis Hensley

First Committee Member

Stephen Davis

Second Committee Member

Kathleen Sadao

Third Committee Member

Memuriyil Thomas


Purpose . The purpose of this study was to examine student perceptions of the impact of grade-level retention on students who experienced retention the first time during 7 th or 8 th grade and who continued with their education into their 10 th -grade, 11 th -grade, or 12 th -grade year. Procedure . Ten high school students in grades ten, eleven, or twelve participated in this phenomenological study. Each of the participants experienced grade-level retention for the first time during their seventh or eighth grade year. At the time of the interviews, each student was earning the necessary credits to be on target to graduate from high school. Qualitative methods were employed to allow an in-depth exploration of each participant's experience. Tape-recorded interviews were conducted. Interview questions addressed five general areas: (a) student reflections regarding middle school; (b) student reflections on their high school experience; (c) student perceptions on the impact of their grade level retention; (d) student perceptions of the effectiveness of grade-level retention, especially at the middle school level; and (e) factors that contributed to each student's academic resilience. Standardized open-ended interview questions minimized variation in the questions posed to participants. Follow-up and probing questions allowed further exploration into each participant's descriptions and reflections. Findings . Participants in this study perceived that their academic success in high school stemmed from their grade-level retention experience. Students recognized a lack of maturity, poor attendance, and an inability to focus their attention on academics, rather than the social aspects of school, as factors that contributed to their retention. Evidence presented in this study suggests that students can experience academic resilience after experiencing grade retention. Self-determination was the single most obvious theme dominating student perceptions of factors that contributed to their academic resilience. Students perceived that they had some degree of control over their academic destiny; each student reflected that a lack of commitment to school, or laziness contributed to their failure. Thus, each student perceived an ability to overcome failure through a commitment to complete work, focus on school, and improved attendance.




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