Failure May Not Be an Option in the Future

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The Florida Department of Education reports more than 38,000 students had to repeat the ninth grade last year. Now the education commissioner is asking that the retention policy be eliminated all together in the state. He says it has to do with students' self esteem and future success.

Administrators and teachers agree.

"We do lose some ninth graders to retention and we never get them back because they get an age where they can drop out, and we lose them," says ninth grade English teacher Sherry Maroney.

The superintendent of Leon County schools says, "When you look at the problem with that, it is discouraging to those students to be retained. In some cases it gives them a great deal of discomfort and sometimes they have a tendency to drop out."

One option rather than failing a student is to promote them to the next grade, but make sure that prior to graduation they retake and pass any mandatory classes they may have failed. It's believed doing this could a long way in helping the student.

Maroney also says, "I think making them tenth graders and letting them see the progress they've made is good, but I think we need to develop a support system for them so they realize they still need to make up this work."

The idea is still being considered, but those who support it say that getting rid of retention policies could actually help schools retain students through to graduation.