Grade-Level Retention Frequently Asked Questions

Following is a list of frequently asked questions about grade-level retention:  

Grade-level retention is determined by comparing a student's grade level in the spring of one school year to the student's grade level in the fall of the next school year. The grade-level retention rate is calculated as the number of students enrolled in the same grade from one school year to the next divided by the number of students enrolled from one school year who return the next.

Students who left the Texas public school system for any reason other than graduation are excluded from the total student count. Students new to the Texas public school system in the fall following the school year of interest are also excluded. Students who enrolled both years or graduated are included in the total student count. Students found to have been enrolled in the same grade in both years are counted as retained. Students found to have been in a higher grade in the fall than in the previous school year are counted as promoted. Students reported to have had improbable grade sequences are assigned an "unknown" promotion status.

Grade retention has been defined as requiring a child to repeat a particular grade or delaying entry to kindergarten or first grade. This definition of retention—repetition of a grade or delayed entry—applies primarily to Grades K-6. The same grade level in successive years in high school does not necessarily represent the repetition of a full year's curriculum as it does in elementary school. Secondary school programs are structured around individual courses. Because passing and failing are determined at the level of the course and credits are awarded for courses completed successfully, the concept of "grade level" becomes more fluid. Students who fail to earn credit in a single course or take fewer courses than required in one year may be classified at the same grade level in two consecutive years. Practices in Grades 7 and 8 may be like those in elementary school or like those in high school depending on local school district policies.

Grade-level retention data for the 2010-11 school year and later years are often presented in two separate annual reports, which are published sequentially, as the data become available. The first report covers grade-level retention by student characteristic and program participation, and the subsequent report covers grade-level retention and promotion with data on performance of students on the reading and mathematics state assessments. In some years, assessment data are not available to produce the report on grade-level retention and student performance. In 2019-20, the format of the report on grade-level retention rates was changed from a PDF report to an interactive data dashboard.

Texas Education Agency produces grade-level retention data at the campus, district, county, education service center (ESC) region and state level. Data searches and data downloads can be found on the Grade-Level Retention Data page. Data for the state are also available as reports and data dashboards.


Page last updated November 2023

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