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Student Retention


Research from the past several decades has clearly shown that only a small percentage of students improve academically or socially following grade level retention. Most do not demonstrate improvement and suffer negative consequences in response to the retention. Therefore, selecting the appropriate students for retention must be accomplished in a systematic, objective manner that includes the active involvement of all significant members in a student’s life.

The Huntington Beach City School District has adopted policies and procedures to assist students who are not meeting district academic standards in three phases: 1) identify students who are at risk of retention based on established criteria; 2) intervene aggressively on their behalf by providing additional learning opportunities and support; and 3) promote or retain the student based on their performance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How are students identified as being “at risk of retention?”
A student will be considered at risk for retention at the end of second and third grades if he/she has performed below grade level standards in three out of five of the language arts performance indicators as described in the district’s system of assessment and accountability.

A student completing fourth through eighth grades will be considered at risk of retention if he/she has performed below grade level standards in six out of eight of the language arts and mathematics performance indicators as described in the district’s system of assessment and accountability. In addition, a student completing sixth through eighth grades will be considered at risk of retention if she/he has earned a cumulative grade point average of 1.7 or below.

Once a student has been identified as being at risk of retention, what happens next?
By the end of October / early November, the school will notify parents/guardians in writing if their student is at risk of retention. Teachers will begin classroom-based interventions to assist the student.

By Mid-December, parent/guardians will be given the opportunity to participate in the development of a Student Intervention Plan that will describe the agreements that the student, home, and school make on behalf of the improvement effort. This will include additional learning opportunities that occur both in the classroom and outside of the school day.

Within two weeks after the end of the first semester, the School Intervention Plan will be reviewed and progress-to-date will shared with the parent/guardian.

By early June, the school will make a recommendation regarding retention or promotion. Every reasonable effort will be made to meet with the parent/guardian of those students who have been recommended for retention. The completed form, with the recommendation, will be mailed or personally delivered to parents of each student. A copy will be kept in the student’s permanent records.

What types of recommendations may be made following the interventions?
There are four basic recommendations that may be made by the school:

  1. The student may be promoted if he/she have demonstrated progress in meeting district grade level standards and expectations.
  2. The student may be conditionally promoted based on successful completion of additional requirements, such as summer school.
  3. The student may be retained if he/she has not demonstrated adequate progress toward meeting grade level expectations.
  4. The school may exempt a student from retention if a written determination is made that grade level retention is not an appropriate intervention for the student’s deficiencies.

Are there other exceptions to the retention process?
Seldom, if ever, should a student be retained more than one time. The maximum age for a fifth grade student at the end of the year shall be 12 years and 6 months. Maximum age for an eighth grade student shall be 15 years and 6 months.

English language learners who have not met the district standards for promotion may be promoted if they are demonstrating progress as measured by a district-selected test of English oral language proficiency.

Promotion or retention decisions regarding students in special education programs shall be made based on the recommendations found in the student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP).

What if the parent does not agree with the decision to promote or retain the student?
After the school makes the decision regarding promotion or retention, the parent/guardian shall have the right to submit to the principal, within five (5) working days of notification, a written statement of objection as to why the student should not be retained or promoted. The burden shall be on the parent/guardian to demonstrate why the school decision should be overturned. The principal must contact the parent and respond in writing within five (5) working days following receipt of the appeal.

If, following a review of the appeal with the child’s teacher, the principal upholds the decision to retain or promote, the parent/guardian may request a second level review of the school’s decision. The parent/guardian may forward his/her written appeal to the Superintendent/designee specifying the reasons why the school’s decision should be overturned. This appeal must be initiated within five (5) working days of the school’s response.

Within twenty (20) working days of receiving the request, the Superintendent/ designee shall determine whether to uphold the school’s decision. Prior to making this decision, the Superintendent/designee may meet with the parent/guardian and the principal/teacher. If the Superintendent/designee determines that the parent/guardian has overwhelmingly proven that the school decision should be overturned, he/she shall overrule the decision.

The Superintendent/designee’s determination may be appealed by submitting a written appeal to the Board of Education within five (5) working days. Within twenty (20) working days of receipt of a written appeal, the Board of Education shall meet in closed session to decide the appeal. The Board of Education’s decision may be made based solely on the documentation prepared as part of the appeal process or, at the discretion of the Board, the parent/guardian, principal, teacher, and/or Superintendent/designee may be invited to participate in the process. The decision of the Board shall be final.

If the decision of the Board of Education is unfavorable to the parent/guardian, the parent/guardian shall have the right to submit a written statement of objection that shall become a part of the student’s permanent record.