Alternatives for Retention (AlteR)

Within any given class in primary and secondary education, there is typically considerable variation among students (e.g., academic skills, psychosocial skills, learning tempo, interests, motivation, intellectual ability, values, SES). This heterogeneity (especially in terms of achievement) challenges educational practitioners and policy makers in their attempts to guarantee high educational standards and raises the question how to deal with it. Many European students who are not keeping up with their peers or who do not meet a certain predefined level, are requested to repeat their grade, instead of being promoted to the next grade (Eurydice, 2013). Strong beliefs about the positive effects of grade retention among practitioners play an important role in this matter. However, research on the effects of grade retention on repeaters’ development, in a variety of countries across the world, has revealed this practice to be non-effective (for recent reviews, see Goos et al., 2021; Valbuena et al., 2020).

In this project, we want to tackle this popular educational practice by professionalizing European practitioners in primary and secondary education with regard to their retention beliefs and practices. Instead of opting to tackle learning problems by making students repeat a school year, we want to familiarize educational practitioners with alternative, less drastic teaching methods to eliminate learning disadvantages. As such, we aim to decrease the number of European at-risk students retained in grade and thus increase the number of at-risk students with a successful school career.

Funded by: the European Union (Erasmus+ 2021-1-BE02- KA220-HED-000022966)

Duration: March 2022 – February 2024

Partner organizations

  • UCLL Leuven
  • Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada Lisbon (ISPA)
  • Medical School Berlin
  • Maastricht University