Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Mary Roth


This study investigated the effects that a K-12 grade retention had on adults who were retained as children. The research was motivated by three research questions: (1) How do adults aged 18-65 who have experienced grade retention describe the effect that a K-12 retention had and possibly continues to have on their lives? (2) How do adults aged 18-65 feel about having been held back in school? (3) How do adults aged 18-65 perceive grade retention overall? Previous studies neglected to examine the emotional implications that retention can have on a child and the possible long-term effects that retention may have on an adult years after the retention takes place. This qualitative study, using grounded theory as the methodology, examined the memories of 14 participants between the ages of 24-65 who lived in southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina during their school-age years. Adults in this research were encouraged to share their stories over a period of months with guided questions by the researcher. The findings showed that there were still unanswered questions about the effects of retention on academic achievement overall; however, the participants in this study considered retention to be neither good or bad but to be used as a means for last resort by educators. Six of the 14 participants shared that they felt a myriad of emotions when they were children that they could not fully explain. They went on to say that they have released all negative feelings related to their retention and did not allow the retention label to hinder their adult lives. Five of the participants admit the experience has left a negative feeling, and three respondents admitted to having no comment or admit to having no immediate feelings concerning the childhood experience that they wished to share.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.