School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Lucinda Spaulding


Middle School Students, Grade Level Retention, Student Attitudes, Effects of Retention


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the experiences of grade level retention for twice retained, middle school students in Eastern Virginia. During data collection, 10 twice retained, middle school students in grades 6-8 residing in Eastern Virginia were surveyed, interviewed, and provided personal journals. The theory guiding this study was constructivism, due to its consideration of individuals’ unique experiences and multiple realities (Piaget, 1954). This study’s qualitative data was coded using horizonalization, and clusters of meaning were developed, which allowed textural and structural descriptions of the participants’ unique experiences. The study’s findings reveal twice retained, middle school students’ views of and experiences with grade level retention. Also, participants disclosed their feelings following grade level retention and its impact on their motivation. Furthermore, this study presents factors contributing to grade level retention and viable options. This study contributes to the current understanding of the impact of grade retention on individuals and practices of grade retention due to its qualitative nature and focus on twice retained, middle school students’ experiences with grade retention.