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avignon
avignon asks:
Q:

Should I retain my 2nd grader?

My son turned 7 two months ago and is currently in 2nd grade.  He was born pre-mature and was diagnosed with speech delay at age 3.  The local school completed an IEP for speech therapy and he attended it for 1 year. He entered kindergarten with speech problems so I contacted the school again and had him retested for IEP.  He passed the test at 80% and did not qualify for the service, so the school could not help him.  At that time I noticed he was struggling with reading and writing but excelled in math.  So, with no IEP, he was send too 1st grade.

1/2 way thru the 1st grade, I couldn't take him struggling anymore so I contacted Sylvan and had him tested.  They said he did not know all his letters and was about a year behind in reading.  So I signed him up for tutoring.  The teacher at school did not think he was behind and said he's just a late bloomer.  So he was passed to 2nd grade.

I continued the tutoring until the end of 2010 (Sylvan is very expensive).  They did a great job with him and I saw the change. He was at 2nd grade level when I took him out.  My son loves to read despite all his difficulty with it.

From the beginning of this school year, his 2nd grade teacher told me he needs to be sent back to 1st grade because he is too young to be in her class and is not reading at grade level. I did not agree with it and so I asked the principal for assistance. She thinks he should be retained as well.
Member Added on Jan 30, 2011
At the first report-card when he started to get "N"s, I asked the teacher to send each weeks spelling works the weekend before they were due so that I can work with him during the weekend.  His spelling test improved from -7 or -7 to -1 or +1... and I also saw an improvement in all the school work he was bringing home.  Yet ... the report card last week ... shows no changes and the teacher marked "at risk of retention".  Last night I even got a call to schedule a parent-teacher conference.

I know what she wants ... retention ... and I do not agree with it.  I do not feel he needs the "extra year" to grow up socially (he is a very outgoing kid), but I do know he still needs help.  I did hire another tutor 3 weeks ago and plan on getting the Spectrum books to work with him over the weekends and into the summer.  He is excellent in math (above grade level)... but his reading and penmanship ... is a work in progress.

Also, I talked to my son about him possibly going back to 1st grade and he was devastated for days!  He would come home showing me is work and asking if he is doing better now so he wouldn't have to go back to 1st grade. That reaction still comes up even now when something doesn't come out perfect.

I'm at a loss ... don't know what to do.  Does he really need to be retained?  Is there someone I can take him to and have him evaluated to really see where he is academically and socially?  Is this because of his age? Does he need a shrink? Do I?  
In Topics: Helping my child with reading, Motivation and achievement at school, My Relationship with my child's school
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Vwindman
Mar 9, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Avignon,

Has your school done psychological testing to see if there are discrepancies in his verbal and written performance?  Has the teacher done any standardized testing on your son to show you his delay?  When is your child's birthday?  If it is late fall he may be young but that is not always an indicator of immaturity.  I would ask for specific reasons and documentation why your son should be retained.  If he is telling you he is unhappy you may want to listen to him.  Another good indicator are his social skills.  Does he have friends?  If he is struggling in this area you may want to consider holding him back.  It's not a stigma if its going to help him socially.


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Additional Answers (7)

olskool
olskool writes:
I think if your child is making that much effort to do his best, well he should not be retained. This teacher should know that he made need some accommodations during class, but it sounds as though he is doing well,. Improvement is always a good sign. Keep him in the Sylvan program if you can and work with him at home. Have him help you in the store when you go grocery shopping, identifying all the items you need that begin with the letter "a". The key is to keep him motivated.
That teacher doesn't sound like she wants to help you, but herself. Good luck!!!
> 60 days ago

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cindyandallie
cindyandallie writes:
I teach 2nd grade and as a teacher have been told over and over and over 2 things:

1) Retention CAN be a good thing if done for the right reasons; the more pressing one being social. It's harder to "catch up" on social skills and becoming more mature than it is to get caught up on academics.

2) If the parents are not 100% on board, retention is probably not going to be successful because there will always be the element of disagreement from parent to child. Even parents who don't come right out and say that they think retention was a bad idea still send that vibe to their kiddo.

So, if you think your son is on board with his social skills and can get caught up academically, my gut says no, don't retain him. Keep in mind that there is a large range of abilities in EVERY classroom, from below grade level to above, so academically he might fit within that range.

I have a student this year whom we (as a school) tried to retain last year and the mother was on board, the dad was not. He is significantly below grade level academically and has temper tantrums (stomping feet, flopping head on desk, refusing to work) all throughout the day. THIS is a picture of a child for whom retention is a good idea.

The bottom line (for me) is that you need to do what you think is right for your child. NO ONE knows your son like you do. I will caution you, however, that retention is far more successful if done in early grades rather than later. So if there was to be a time, it's now or in 3rd grade at the latest.  

One more thought, moving a child back a grade should only be done in extreme cases. I have had one student move back a grade after spending about 2 weeks in 4th grade. She did fit right in with the 3rd graders but it was very hard on her socially to be moved back after having started a new grade. I disagree with this teacher that your son should go that route.

Talk to other parents, talk to the school's counselor or psychologist (there is no "social" test that I'm aware of, but plenty of tests for other conditions that have a portion on social skills) and get their take. But like I said, do what YOU think is right.

Good luck and keep us posted!

Cindy
> 60 days ago

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parentadvocate
parentadvoc... writes:
The word "retention" often results in significant debate among both educators and parents.  Personally, I am not a huge fan of the practice, however I must admit that I have seen a few students make some nice gains academically after retention.  SO, I do try to be open minded!  My current district actually has a NO retention policy, however in some rare instances, it is allowed.

There is a good tool that your School Psychologist should have access to.  The Light's Retention Scale looks at a variety of factors which can indicate if a student is a good candidate for retention.  I would recommend that you discuss this with your psychologist.

It doesn't sound as though your district has been doing much to help your child.  Schools should have in place what is known as an RTI (Response to Intervention) Team, which develops plans to address learning or behavioral concerns to help students succeed.  RTI teams can be very creative, and it is amazing how simple things at times can have good results for kids.

Furthermore, it is your right, by federal LAW to request an evaluation by the school.  If you submit a written request to your principal, school psych, or  district special ed director, districts have 60 days to complete testing to determine if there is an underlying learning disability or handicapping condition.

There are lots of options for struggling students.  Check out Wrightslaw for further information about your rights and ideas to help your child.
http://www.wrightslaw.com/

Good luck.  Remember, you know your child better than ANYONE else.  Also, there are certain teachers out there who believe that retention..."the gift of time," is a best practice and tend to recommend it over and over and over.  Just remember it is not considered best practice, and should be very rarely recommended.
> 60 days ago

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avignon
avignon writes:
Update ... he has completed a psycho-educational evaluation and was found eligible for services due to a specific learning disability.  His IQ is in the 79%, his reading is at 23% and math at 88%. They are not going to retain him, but they are not helping him with reading either.  He has dyslexia and the school is refusing to provide him with a different teaching method due to funding.  I am going to file for due process as well as a formal complaint with the state ... we'll see what happens next.

Thanks to all those that answered!
> 60 days ago

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nassir
nassir writes:
I feel so sorry because I am going through the same problem . My son is in grade three he can't read well but does well in maths . I spend a lot of sleepless nights worrying about him . His grade 2 teacher also wanted him to repeat the term but my husband was so against it . We try to do the best for our children I hope we all succeed  .
> 60 days ago

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kunya
kunya writes:
well i think you should do what's best for him.
> 60 days ago

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Beth40
Beth40 writes:
There are tons of websites to pull information from, don't give up. I have been using free online worksheets and games. this has helped in teaching my daughter. We are going thru the same process, school wants to choose retention, I want a Dyslexia test...
I have seen great improvement using these online tools.

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