Retention, also known as redshirting, is the practice of having a student repeat a grade so that he or she can work on the academic skills needed to advance to the next level. School officials sometimes suggest that students repeat a grade if they have a learning disability, have been absent and missed many days of instruction, or have late birthdays that make them much younger than other children in the class.

By repeating a grade, students get the chance to learn and mature physically and academically so that they can catch up to their peers. Some critics, however, believe that repeating a grade may hurt students’ self-esteem because their friends have advanced a grade without them. Students may also have learning problems that require special education resources for them to advance to the next grade.