Doing What’s Best for Kids

Instructional Programs and Materials AP 222: Administrative Guidelines for Retention of Students


The Division recognizes all students’ diverse learning abilities, interests and needs.  The Division's goal is for all students to experience success to the maximum of their abilities while progressing through their educational programs.

In Kindergarten to grade 9, it is expected that students will normally progress from one grade level to the next on an annual basis.

Educational research generally shows that grade retention does not improve academic achievement for students who experience academic difficulties.  Retention is also one of the best predictors that a student will leave school before graduation.  Motivating and engaging students in learning and supporting students to complete high school is more effective than retention.  Therefore, to maximize student success, and as a preferred alternative to retention, the Division supports differentiation or individualized programming while accommodating a student’s needs in the classroom.  

Students have the option to complete one year in ECDP, or two years in ECDP if their needs qualify them for Per Unit Funding (PUF).  

For students in Grades 10 – 12 student promotion is determined by the successful completion of courses, not grades.  The principal is responsible to ensure each course or program of study’s requirements, as set by Alberta Education, are met.


  1. Grade retention is when a student is recommended to remain at his/her current grade level for two consecutive years.
  2. Students who are not meeting grade level learner outcomes typically include young students who are below grade level in the core subject areas, are chronic non-attenders, and/or appear to be disengaged and unmotivated in the classroom.

Administrative Guidelines

  1. Students who are not meeting grade level learner outcomes, should be flagged and provided appropriate school-based interventions based on classroom and curriculum-based assessments.
  2. Students not meeting grade level learner outcomes must be identified to the school principal by the November and April reporting period.
  3. Parents must be informed, in writing that their child is not meeting grade level learner outcomes.  School staff and parents develop a  school-based and/or home-based intervention plan to support their child.
  4. Regular, ongoing monitoring of the student’s response to interventions is required and must be communicated to parents.
  5. In the event a teacher recommends that a student be retained, by June 1 the teacher will put their recommendation in writing to the principal and provide the rationale, supported by documentation.   Upon subsequent approval by the principal and superintendent or designate, and in accordance with policies of the School Authority, the school team will then meet with parents, and student if appropriate, to discuss the recommendation of retention.  
  6. In the event a parent requests that their child be retained, a written request must be provided to the principal By June 1st.  A decision regarding the request will be provided to parents by June 30th.
  7. When considering retention, academic performance, maturity, social, and other factors are considered relevant.


Documentation Required

The process of supporting a teacher’s recommendation for a student currently in Kindergarten to Grade 9 to be retained in that same grade in the following year is determined on the principal’s review of the following information:

  1. Documentation of the extent of the student achievement gap in relation to the learner outcomes expected in the provincial program of study and current level of achievement at the end of the current school year.
  2. Student assessment and response to intervention data in support of the recommendation.
  3. Details of meetings and reports to parents specifically reporting student progress as per Division policy and administrative procedures (i.e., regular report cards) that clearly document parents were informed that the student was not meeting grade level learner outcomes.
  4. Other data as appropriate to support the recommendation for grade retention.