Grade retention or grade repetition is the process of a student repeating a policy of social promotion, with the idea that staying within their same age group is important. Social promotion is the obligatory advancement of all students regardless of achievements and absences. Social promotion is used more in countries which use tracking to group students according to academic ability. Academic scholars believe that underperformance must be addressed with intensive remedial help, such as summer school or after-school programs in contrast to failing and retaining the student.
In the most countries, grade retention has been banned or strongly discouraged. In the United States, grade retention can be used in kindergarten through to twelfth grade; however, students in grades seven through twelve are usually only retained in the specific failed subject due to each subject having its own specific classroom rather than staying in one classroom with all subjects taught for the entire school day as it is in grades kindergarten through sixth grade. For example, in grades seven through to twelve, a student can be promoted in a math class but retained in a language class. Some elementary school grades (kindergarten or 1st grade to 5th or 6th grade) are confined to one room for the whole day, being taught all subjects in the same classroom usually by one teacher with the exception of art and gymnastics conducted in the art room and the gymnasium respectively. In these grades, the student must generally fail or score well below the accepted level in most or all areas within the entire curriculum to be retained. The student will then again repeat the entire school year within a single classroom and repeating the same subject matter as the previous year.
Where it is permitted, grade retention is most common among students in early elementary school. Students with intellectual disabilities are only retained when parents and school officials agree to do so. Children who are relatively young in their age cohort are four times more likely to be retained.