Advantages of third grade retention for poor readers:
If students are young for their grade (summer birthdays), retaining will make them among the oldest students in the class, often an academic advantage.
If students cannot read at a fourth grade level, promoting them to fourth grade sets them up for problems in all subjects which require reading. If those students are instead retained, they have another year to prepare for fourth grade reading levels.
If all students, no matter their achievement level, are automatically promoted, they learn that they will advance through school whether they work or not. This might lead to poor work habits. Retaining students can make them more responsible.
If poor readers are promoted with their class, parents might deceive themselves about their children’s skill levels, and might not intervene until students are hopelessly behind.
If teachers know their students could be held back, those teachers might try harder to meet the reading needs of poorer readers.
If the retained student receives additional reading help, his chances of starting fourth grade at grade level improve.
Disadvantages of third grade retention for poor readers:
If students are retained, they might have lower self-esteem which in turn might lead to depression, a poor work ethic and continued failure.
If students are retained, they will lose friendships they have made. They might become the victims of bullying and ridicule.
Retained students probably will be angry when they learn what is happening, seeing themselves as failures, and wanting even less to learn to read.
If poor readers are retained, they may show a temporary burst in achievement, but compared to poor readers who were promoted, they might show less achievement over time.
A retained student costs a school district more than $10,000 for that extra year of schooling.
Students’ poor reading achievement could be due to social and familial reasons, which if not improved, might keep students at a low reading level despite retention.
Students who are retained are more likely to drop out of high school. High school drop outs are five times more likely to have been previously retained.
If poor readers are promoted along with good and advanced readers, teachers will face students with a wide variety of reading levels in the same classroom. Teachers will need to slow down and repeat, repeat, repeat for the sake of the poor readers, lowering the achievement of the non-retained students.