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darlingmom
darlingmom asks:
Q:

Can I fight grade retention for my 7 year old son?

His teacher is recommending retaining him in the first grade but I fear that it will have a negative impact on him emotionally and socially.

The school requires students to be reading at a guided reading level K to be promoted to the 2nd grade.  He is at a level I.  He was just diagnosed with a speech disability last month and we do have an IEP in place which entails both reading recovery program and speech assistance.  He is excelling in math, science, social studies, etc.  His problem is solely with reading and writing which I believe is contributed to his difficulty to produce certain sounds.  He has improved greatly at his reading but as I mentioned-he is 2 levels below.

He is a very shy boy and he actually didn't speak with fellow students at all last year when he was in Kindergarten.  This year he seems to have really opened up and is communicating with his fellow classmates.  

I have a meeting on Thursday with the IST program which is to discuss them retaining him in the 1st grade.  I have sent a request that the Principal be present at the meeting since the district policy states the Principal has final say in grade retention (not that I have received a response to my request).

I have provided the IST program, his teacher and the principal various studies that have been done that state that grade retention may have detromental effects on the child both emotionally and socially and that due to my son's shyness I fear this will destroy his self-esteem.
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In Topics: Helping my child with reading, National education standards and No Child Left Behind, Speech and language issues
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Sylvia HS
May 17, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hi darlingmom,

In the school district where I work, parents have a lot of power in deciding whether their child will repeat, or not repeat.  You mention that the school principal has the final say in your district.  Is that stated in writing in district policy or is it just a convention of the district?  Have other parents had experiences like yours, and were they successful in disagreeing with the recommendation of the school?

There are several things that I'm thinking.

1.  You mention that your son has a speech difficulty that has just been diagnosed.  I think that this has had a lot of influence on his progress with reading, spelling, and writing.  Some children are recognized and diagnosed for this difficulty in kindergarten.  Since your son has just been given this diagnosis, I think you could argue that since direct intervention is just beginning now, it would be unfair to hold him back, before he's has an opportunity to work intensively on his speech development.

2.  You mention that he'll be receiving reading recovery assistance, as well.  In my school system, reading recovery begins for grade one students in January of their grade one year.  Your son hasn't had the advantage of this either.  Perhaps you could convince the school that they should wait until he's had some time to receive this specialized one-on-one assistance.

3.  Every classroom contains children with a range of reading abilities and levels.  To expect everyone to be at a prescribed level doesn't fit with my own experience in school systems, over the past nearly-forty years.

4.  Will your son be assessed by a reading specialist?  Or has this already happened?  This is essential.  That way you have an independent evaluator assessing your son's levels of development.  If it isn't possible to get this done before the end of the school term, are there reading specialists in your community that could assess your son during the summer?

5.  You could engage a tutor over the summer.  Your son wouldn't lose any ground over the summer and would be in a stronger position when entering school in September.

6.  Would the school entertain the possibility of placing your son in grade two, because he's strong in most of the subject areas, but have him take his reading instruction in another classroom?  Perhaps they have a resource room, or split grade, or smaller enrollment in one classroom and could accommodate this.

I hope that these ideas will be helpful to you.

Sincerely,

Sylvia HS
Reading Specialist
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Additional Answers (7)

Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
Hello,
Well this could work two ways. If you don't let him repeat and he is moved on to the 2nd grade, he may get stressed and etc about school. One thing I would suggest is taking the summer to work with him yourself. Nobody can replace mom or dad when it comes to teaching. Trust me, I homeschool my daughter and it makes such an impact on their skills level. When I pulled my child out of school in the 3rd grade, she was biting her nails, crying when I gave her a book, and basically could not read at her level. Now she is on a 6th grade reading level. The anxiety and pressure is sometimes too much.  I use Spectrum Reading. Start here and do a page a day. Finally, PRAISE him for his accomplishments. There are so many standards set on children in the public schools. This is simply a funding scheme disguised. Reading can come to anyone at different ages. The main thing is is not to let the school discourage you or your son. I found taking matters into my own hands worked wonders! It does not take a professional to help your son get to where he needs to be. It is a combination of patience, consistency (from you and him), and a loving teacher (you). Good luck! You can do it :)
> 60 days ago

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4thGradeHell
4thGradeHell writes:
DON'T FIGHT IT GIRLFRIEND!  The summer between 2 and 3rd, we had a tutor for six weeks, three times a week.  Some summer right!  Well then a tutor from October of 3rd - May of 3rd then all summer before 4th and a $2,000 learning test, hearing test, lactose test, ceiliac test (gluten) You name it, I did it.  But then I sat down with the husband's family from Maine at the end of the summer prior to starting 4th and they were like, we hold all the Harrington's boy back because they are immature.  I am like, what?  I didn't get the memo.  I was glad the real estate market went down because I focused alot on my son to besure I was making the best decision with him.  We have kept it positive.  But my son has had two great  little league coaches and I emailed them my pro and con spreadsheet for retaining my 4th grade son.  Both coaches added to it in the same line with basically the same words.  One said words for words "On our team last year, there were 8 4th graders, 2 3rd graders and 4 2nd graders.  He choose a 2 and 3rd grader as his best buddies.  Same thing for the year before.  Did you realize that?"  This single thing made the most sense.  The coach I quoted is a Elem school gym teacher with alot of maturity for his young age.  Read on.  It is in your daughter's best interest to be held back.  Teacher's are following normal procedures by telling you NOT to hold your daughter back.  When I finally came to the conclusion to hold my son back, I wrote the retention letter and the principal called me three times to re-write the letter so she could honor my request, siting issues such as lost of missed school due to lyme and food allergies, and tonsils and adnoids surgery gone wrong.  PERSONAL HELLS FOR A MOM.  And a private tutor for two year and then she declined my request.  Then I had to appeal and then they did it.  Now I am requesting to have him sent to another public school close by.  Holding your child back or even having your child late to school is absent all together AFFECTS FUNDING.  Thank goodness a retired teacher told me to this and I confirmed it at the board of education.  But when you present it to her, tell her the benefits.  Type it up.  Rehearse it with others in the family, neighborhood (but not the neighborhood bully's mom) with extended family.  Did you read the book Outliers.  READ IT.  Just tell her that you sent her too early.  I am so relieve after spending so much time with tutor and flash cards that I am done.  I quit.  I am not going through this any longer.  And no, he doesnt' have a late birthday - March 25, 1999   He was 5 years and 5 months on the first day of school.  Find out the birthdays of the smartest kids in class.  They might have read the book  "The Gift of Time".  I read it and my husband said that because our son was so tall to just let him go on and start K.  I knew it was a bad idea but because he states so little, I wanted to listen to him.  Then I had to get a sealed copy of his college transcripts for a job and got an extra copy to open for myself and saw his grades.  I was like what is THIS!  Hold that kids back.  But remember, stay positive.  Have a slumber party to announce it to the kids.  Invite her friends that will be in her grade and her old friends.  I am not looking for the perfect kid but I don't want him pulled out of class two times a week during social studies to work with a reading specialist.  This is going to be my first summer since his rising 2nd grade summer that I didn't have a tutor and work with flash card.  I smile whenever we talk about his rentention because he is so happy.  Don't talk to educators.  Talk to other people in the community that will tell you who was held back.  The coaches know!
> 60 days ago

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dechalandry
dechalandry writes:
Yes you can, a wonderful web site to read is www.wrightslaw.com and depending on the state visit your senate web page like mine is fl(Florida) senate.gov and enter mandatory "retention".
> 60 days ago

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KelleyC
KelleyC writes:
As a first grade teacher and a parent, I would strongly suggest you listen to what the teacher is telling you. Most of the time parents can have the child promoted, but it is never a good thing for the child. Although your child is doing well in the other subject areas, reading and writing are the most important. It sounds like the district has appropriate supports for your child in place. Reading recovery is wonderful. You should listen to their recommendation. I've never posted on a message board before, but felt so strongly about this topic. Please give your child an extra year to develop his reading skills. I have never seen retention in first grade cause emotional or social harm. The teacher is trying to do what is best for your child.
> 60 days ago

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AJHuff
AJHuff , Parent writes:
You have the right to say you do not want your child help behind. I am having the same problem with my son and they all say that I am the one who decides if he moves on to the next grade.. They expect alot out of our children these days. Holding them back now may be a less bad impact on their self-esteem then to do it later, when they may be teased about it by other children. I too am very uncertain on what I should do..
> 60 days ago

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DrTacha
DrTacha writes:
I relive sinc
> 60 days ago

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meggewrob
meggewrob writes:
I am going through a simialar situation right now. How long has his IEP been in place? You can always appeal the schools decision. Is he attending summer school or getting tutoring help this summer. It is so stress ful I know I feel like they aren't giving my daughter a chance to catch up and have her IEP in place for a full year. She is one of the tallest kids in her grade and feel that holding her back would be more harmful than helpful. Everyone learns differently it's a shame that shy kids get labeled at such an early age. I feel the same way you do about retention.
> 60 days ago

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