April 18, 2018

More Than 3 Million Students Have Repeated a Grade

In 2015–2016, 7% of U.S. kids between the ages of 6 and 17 — 3.4 million children total — had repeated one or more grades since starting kindergarten.

The likelihood that students are held back varies by location. Generally speaking, kids in the South are more likely than their mountain state peers to repeat a grade. In Mississippi, Oklahoma and Louisiana — where the repeat rate is highest — 15% of students have been held back at least once.

Students who repeat a grade are more likely to perform poorly in school, drop out early and have worse social-emotional outcomes, according to research. A better option for struggling students, experts advise, is to offer them the support needed to catch up to their peers.

Access more education data on the KIDS COUNT Data Center: