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Making Retention Count: The Power of Becoming a Peer Tutor

by Leigh Mesler - 2009

Background/Context: A review of the literature demonstrates that grade retention often fails to improve the academic and socioemotional outcomes of retained students. Although little empirical work on peer tutoring has focused specifically on retained students, the literature suggests that those students who act as peer tutors often experience improved school performance and self-concepts.

Purpose of Study: This work developed out of a concern that elementary school students being held back to repeat a grade, or retained, were not benefiting academically from nonpromotion. The purpose of this action research study was to identify and implement an intervention that would improve the academic and socioemotional outcomes of a twice-retained third-grade student.

Setting: This study took place in a New York City public elementary school.

Intervention: The intervention involved implementing a 12-week peer tutoring program in which a retained third-grade student tutored a struggling classmate in mathematics.

Research Design: This is an action research study in which the author conducted research and implemented an intervention in her own classroom.

Results: After serving as a peer tutor, this student experienced increased math achievement, an improved self-concept, and better classroom behavior. These results suggest that having struggling students serve as peer tutors may be effective in improving both their academic achievement and socioemotional outcomes.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 111 Number 8, 2009, p. 1894-1915
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 15503, Date Accessed: 1/19/2021 4:01:54 PM

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About the Author
  • Leigh Mesler
    Northwestern University
    E-mail Author
    LEIGH MESLER is a doctoral student in human development and social policy at Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy. Before attending Northwestern, she was an elementary school teacher in the New York City public schools. Her research interests include education policy, teacher learning and change, the social organization of schools, and student achievement in urban schools. Recent work: J. Spillane, L. Gomez, & L. Mesler, “Notes on Reframing the Role of the Organizations in Policy Implementation: Resources for Practice, in Practice,” in D. Plank, G. Sykes, & B. Schneider (Eds.), Handbook of Education Policy. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, forthcoming.
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