How do you make a school hold a child back a year?
My 10 year old daughter is disabled and has a severe learning disability she has made amazing progress with the school and teacher she is with now but because of her age they wont let her stay in the fifth grade they are forcing her to go to the sixth grade me and her teacher think this is a huge mistake. What can I do?
Your daughter is very lucky to have such a caring and involved mother on her side. I think that it is wonderful that you are reaching out to get the support and answers you need to guide your daughter's education.
As for grade retention and promotion, there are a number of issues to consider as you evaluate your options. First, you should learn all that you can about research examining the short- and long-term effects of grade retention. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has published a position statement (which means that prominent members of the NASP got together, reviewed the evidence, and determined their official "position" on the issue) on grade retention. Overall, the research indicates that students who are held back/retained have worse outcomes academically and emotionally than their peers who were also candidates for retention, but who were promoted. See links below.
Interestingly, parents are typically angered when the school suggests/requires that the child be retained and parents must fight against mandatory retention. Given that you are in the opposite situation, I suggest that you contact the special education administrator or principal at your daughter's school (whomever you are corresponding with) and request a meeting. Do your research and ask that school personnel provide information in support of their recommendation that your daughter be promoted.
Finally, you may wish to consider an outside evaluator. A psychologist or educational consultant can independently test your daughter and assess her for grade promotion.
Consider all of the information, bring in all of the important personnel to help you make a decision, and never stop advocating on behalf of your daughter. Let us know how it goes.
Best of luck to you.
L. Compian, Ph.D.
Education.com Expert Panel
The school district where I work has a policy against retention. However, if parents are insistent and write a letter asking that their child be retained, the school district will honor it.
Are you feeling that if your daughter were retained, she would catch up academically to her peers? If she is behind right now, that extra year might not be enough to enable her to reach the same level as her grade level peers.
Have you had an assessment of her academic ability levels? This could likely be done at her school, or you could have a private psychologist or reading specialist assess her.
I suggest that you contact your state department of education to find out if there are state policies regarding disabled children and promotion/retention.
Also, do you have a state department for disabled people? Perhaps they could give you some guidance about your child.
As well, does your school district have non-graded classrooms for disabled students? The district where I work has many different kinds of special needs classrooms. They were designed to take grade level pressure off of students who might not be able to make the average year-by-year gains expected in regular classrooms. You might not favor this idea. I have seen many, many disabled children soar in their confidence, and their skills, when they are taken out of the pressure of grade level expectations.
I hope that you will be able to find the right sources in your state to give you the best direction for your child and her educational progress.