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[Susan notes: Lisa, testing reform analyst, National Center for Fair and Open Testing, gets in all the facts that Freedman left out.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

Promoting children in academic trouble is a "recipe for disaster," as Samuel G. Freedman notes (On Education column, Aug. 4).

But decades of independent research show that retention - holding children back in the same grade for another year - is an even worse educational policy. The vigorous outcry over Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's third-grade retention plan is justified by decades of independent studies.

Students who were held back in New York City, Chicago and other large school districts did no better on average than similar students who were not retained, and were up to twice as likely to drop out of school.

If educational policy were based on independent evidence, not political sloganeering, New York schools would focus efforts on helping students in grades K-3 before they fail.

Retention is long proved to leave many children behind.

Lisa Guisbond

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