The Role of RTI in Grade Retention
Having a child repeat a grade is a very serious decision, with huge (and unfortunately, not always positive) consequences, so great care needs to be taken to understand the reasons for this recommendation and how this action will improve the child’s school experience. Grade retention by itself does not guarantee anything other than the child being a year older and faced with the same or similar academic challenges as the year before. And research about grade retention is very clear that:
When compared to their non-retained peers, children who were retained before kindergarten were 66% more likely to receive negative feedback from teachers during their later school years
Studies have suggested that when these students reach adolescence, they may experience some behavioral difficulties, perhaps stemming from their being a year or more older than their peers. In fact, students who are more than a year older than their classmates are more likely to drop out of high school than their age matched peers.
Any decision to have a child repeat a grade must be based on a very targeted plan to provide instruction and support that will both close the learning gap for the child and address the emotional and behavioral consequences of being “left back.” Research about starting school late (being held back in kindergarten) tells us that the emotional baggage of having been retained, even at this early time in a child’s school career, lingers on. One study asked young students to rate a series of stressful events, and being left back ranked third, immediately following "going blind" and "losing a parent."
In terms of RTI, there is no guarantee that having a child repeat a grade will not be a viable or reasonable consideration. That said, these essential features of RTI make grade retention highly unlikely.
High-Quality Instruction – makes sure all students receive high-quality, research-based instruction in the general education classroom
Tiered Instruction/ Intervention – provides students with increasingly intensive, multi-tiered instruction and intervention matched to their individual needs
Ongoing Student Assessment – uses repeated screening and progress monitoring measures to identify students at risk of falling behind and evaluating the impact of instructional changes
Family Involvement – collaborating with parents to provide the best learning opportunities in school, at home, and in community settings)
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Reprinted with the permission of the National Center for Learning Disabilities. © 1999-2009 National Center for Learning Disabilities, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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