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Student Grade Retention Process

Student Grade Retention Process


 Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) acknowledges retention as an option under state law in New Mexico. However,  educational research indicates retention alone does not improve student outcomes. Retaining students disproportionately affects students of color, English learners, students in Title I programs, students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs), and students from low-socioeconomic status families. Outlined below are the process and the rights that a student and parent/guardian are entitled to. 


APS provides academic, behavioral, and social-emotional resources for all students based on need through programming and a multi-tiered (layered) system of support (MLSS). Examples include using evidence-based intervention strategies and programs, teachers and counselors working on increased social-emotional learning for students, credit-recovery programs, differentiated instruction, accelerated learning, and emphasis on essential core standards. 

Identification of a student’s academic, behavioral, and social-emotional needs may serve as criteria for assessing the need for remedial programs or retention. Academic proficiency is measured through multiple data points such as interim assessments, grades, and classroom-based assessments and indicates performance and progress toward grade-level standards. The teacher(s) will ensure appropriate interventions are being implemented and monitored, as appropriate, through MLSS. The teacher(s) will notify parents/guardians by the end of the second grading period if the student is not academically proficient, requires an increased layer of support, or if retention is anticipated. 

At any layer, parent(s) may refer a student to the Student Assistance Team (SAT) for consideration of retention or to request support for their child. Classroom teacher(s) or other staff should refer a student to SAT at any layer if a student requires a formal written academic or behavioral intervention plan, if retention is being considered, or if it is suspected that the student has a disability that requires special education and related services. 

No student will be retained without documented MLSS remediation/intervention strategies, which are focused on the student's unique needs and are provided based on the school remediation plan program and recommendations from school support staff members and to the extent possible with the student’s family. 

At the end of the eighth grade, a student who is not academically proficient will be retained in the eighth grade for no more than one school year to become academically proficient, or if the student assistance team determines that retention of the student in the eighth grade will not assist the student to become academically proficient, the team will design a high school graduation plan to meet the student's needs for entry into the workforce or a post-secondary educational institution. Retained eighth graders may not begin high school coursework. If a student is retained in the eighth grade, the SAT  will develop a specific academic improvement plan through MLSS that clearly delineates the student's academic deficiencies and prescribes a specific remediation plan to address those academic deficiencies.

Decision to Retain

A SAT conference consisting of the principal, teacher, and parent or guardian must be scheduled, and the parent(s)/guardian(s) notified of the conference. All factors concerning possible retention will be taken into consideration. A review of relevant records will be conducted, and interested parties encouraged to share their points of view; a final recommendation to retain or not will be made by the SAT

A parent or guardian who refuses to allow a child to be retained will sign a waiver indicating that the child's promotion is against the specific advice and recommendation of the certified school instructor and the school principal. Additionally, a parent can only refuse retention once, per New Mexico state law. A parent or guardian can also disagree with the SAT decision not to honor a parent retention request and take their concerns to the Student Services Center, where the retention request will be reviewed. 

The Student Assistance Team completes the Student Retention Form to document the meeting and final decision. The retention document will be uploaded into the student information system to be filed in the student’s electronic cumulative file. Retention decisions are made after the second-grading period for the upcoming school year.  

Districtwide Reporting

The Office of Accountability and Reporting will be responsible for compiling all school data into a district retention report and completing the retention report required by the New Mexico Public Education Department.


High School Classification or Reclassification

All students must be classified each year as follows:

  1. A student may be reclassified once course history is posted to transcripts, depending on the number of credits earned. 

  2. A student must have a minimum of six (6) credits to be classified as a sophomore. 

  3. A student must have a minimum of thirteen (13) credits to be classified as a junior. 

  4. A student must have a minimum of nineteen (19) credits to be classified as a senior.

Notification of Student Course Failures

Schools will notify parent(s)/guardian(s) of student failure through the online grade portal or scheduled grade reports at the end of each marking period that their student/child is failing a course(s). It does not constitute grounds to pass the student simply because the parent/guardian did not receive notification of course failure(s). 

The report card/transcript verifies the loss of credit for the semester.

Notification for Seniors

In addition to the steps outlined above, at the end of the second semester’s first grading period, high school personnel will mail letters and/or call parent(s)/guardian(s) to inform them of the possibility their child may fail a class(es), which could jeopardize graduation. 

After the third nine weeks’ deficiency notice, teachers will submit Tentative Senior Course Failure Lists to the school administration. Only the listed seniors may fail unless a senior who was passing a course at the time the list was compiled exhibits a significant drop in attendance, fails to complete major course assignments, and/or fails to complete the final exam.

Schools will inform parent(s)/guardian(s) of students on the Tentative Senior Course Failure List form. If a student’s name is added to the Tentative Senior Course Failure List, parent(s)/guardian(s) must be notified.

Following final exams, schools will inform parent(s)/guardian(s) and appropriate district offices of course failures that resulted in non-graduation. 

Administrative Position:

  • Chief Academic Officer


Department Director:

  • Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction


Legal Ref:

  • §22-2C-6 NMSA 1978

Board Policy Cross Ref:

  • IA Academic Goals

  • IH Instructional Program

  • IH6 Graduation Requirements

  • IK Academic Accountability

Procedural Directive Cross Ref: 

  • Instructional Program

NSBA/NEPN Classification: IKE

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: June 2002
Reviewed: November 18, 2020
Revised:  December 2, 2020

Reviewed: April 15, 2024

Revised: April 15, 2024