Students may be retained in a grade if they lack the required academic or social skills to advance to the next grade. In 2007, some 11 percent of public school students in kindergarten through grade 12 had ever been retained (i.e., repeated a grade since starting school). Students in higher grades may also be suspended (temporarily removed from regular school activities either in or out of school) or expelled (permanently removed from school with no services) due to behavior problems. In 2007, some 22 percent of public school students in grades 6 through 12 had been suspended and 3 percent had been expelled.
In 2007, about 21 percent of Black students in kindergarten through grade 12 had been retained, a higher percentage than the percentages for White, Hispanic, or Asian students. The percentages of Hispanic students (12 percent) and students of two or more races (14 percent) who had been retained in a grade were higher than the percentages of White (9 percent) and Asian (3 percent) students who had been retained.
Of students in grades 6 through 12, a larger percentage of Black students (43 percent) had been suspended than White (16 percent), Hispanic (22 percent), Asian (11 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (14 percent) students, and students of two or more races (25 percent). Students of two or more races and Hispanic students had higher rates of suspension than the rates for White and Asian students. In addition, a higher percentage of Black students had been expelled (13 percent) than was the case for White students (1 percent), Hispanic students (3 percent), and students of two or more races (4 percent).
Differences exist between males and females when examining rates of retention, suspension, and expulsion. In 2007, about 14 percent of male students in kindergarten through grade 12 had repeated a grade, compared with 9 percent of female students. Additionally, for both Black and White students, a larger percentage of males than females had been retained. A similar pattern emerged for suspensions. Overall, the percentage of males in grades 6 through 12 who had been suspended was almost twice the percentage of females who had been suspended (28 vs. 15 percent) and the same ratio was observed for White and Hispanic males and females. Additionally, among students overall, the percentage of males in grades 6 through 12 who had been expelled was twice that of their female counterparts.View Table 17a