Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership and Policy

First Advisor

Michael Addonizio




Cleo M. Moody

December 2010

Advisor: Dr. Michael Addonizio

Major: Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Degree: Doctor of Education

Policy and practice regarding in-grade level retention and their effects on high school graduation rates and successful student academic outcomes have currently assumed great importance in the education reform debate. Further, the effectiveness of our public schools and the achievement of our students have implications that can affect individuals and the communities in which they live. Now, more than ever, individual economic success and economic growth depend crucially on academic achievement and human capital. The purpose of this research is to identify the determinants of student performance on the Michigan Education Assessment Program test and high school completion. Regression analysis was used to estimate a district-level model of student achievement.

District policies regarding social promotion may be explicit or, more likely, implicit. In either case, this widespread practice raises important questions about in-grade retention and the requirements that must be met in order for a student to meet graduation and grade level promotional standards.

The typical eighth grade student that has experienced two grade level retentions by all likelihood could turn sixteen years old during his eighth grade year. While other students that are their same age are acquiring driver's licenses, they are going to school with fourteen year olds. Retention and promotional policies along with high school completion rates will continue to have a substantial impact on the future of Michigan as well as society in general. The formation of sound policies and the improvement of Michigan's high school graduation rate require clear achievement benchmarks for Michigan's students and accurate calculations of high school graduation rates. The independent variable with the most significance in most cases was free and reduced lunch. Social supports, health care, and other non-school services must complement opportunities for educational growth for students and educational accountability and responsibility must be required of parents, educators, administrators, and policy makers if the goals of NCLB are to be achieved and the achievement gap narrowed.