Why are school retaining students and what can I do when they want to retain mine?

Why are school retaining students and what can I do when they want to retain mine?

Retaining students is a challenging and problematic educational decision. Advocates contend it can lead to the interventions and assistance that pupils desperately require, while those opposed allege it further disadvantages students and disproportionately affects those already marginalized.

Shane Jimerson, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, looked at 20 studies published between 1990 and 1999. He extrapolated that they “fail to demonstrate that grade retention provides greater benefits to students with academic or adjustment difficulties than does promotion to the next grade.” It often seemed as though detained children performed worse in school and had negative social-emotional consequences than non-retained pupils. Furthermore, Jimerson also concluded that high school dropout rates were higher in retained students.

Several states have witnessed a sharp decline in retention rates by shifting the emphasis from one size fits all teaching to attempting to get all students the aid they need when they need it.

Everett Public School in Washington state said: “It’s such a detrimental process. The research shows if a child is retained, and you do the same things, he or she will be further behind than ever. If you retain them, you need to do something different.”

According to several studies, retaining students from year to year just makes it harder for them to catch up socially. But this does not stop schools from carrying it out. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) emphasizes in its position paper on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion that grade retention has been more popular over the past 25 years despite scant evidence of its efficacy.

According to NASP estimates, between 30 and 50 percent of American students are retained at least once before ninth grade, and as many as 15 percent of American students repeat a grade each year.

Standardized Testing and Retention

Many states have laws requiring schools to consider grade retention when kids fail a standardized reading test for the third grade. During the first few months of the pandemic, most states stopped these policies; however, they have recently resumed.

Reports suggest educators frequently believe that keeping failing pupils in school is their only option besides social promotion. The initiatives in education for standards and accountability have also increased the demand on districts to ensure students pass high-stakes exams or pass other requirements before receiving promotions.

Nevertheless, Jan Atwell, executive director of United Parents Associations, a group requesting revoking the testing policy, claimed that many parents are unhappy with the policy. She says, “Past practice shows this does not work. The concept of retention has been tried in many places and not been successful. Not only did children not show a net gain, but more dropped out. We don’t want to take a chance on more of our third graders dropping out.”

However, it is also believed that the technique of “social promotion,” which involves advancing a pupil without any additional help, is largely unproductive. For this reason, schools are suggested to implement a Response to Intervention paradigm that combines grade promotion with efficient and evidence-based interventions. Also, school staff should promote instructional activities backed by evidence rather than promoting retention as an intervention.

Regardless, some educators believe that retention has a place. Third graders in NYC who fail the city-wide achievement tests this year will be retained, according to Joel I. Klein, chancellor of the New York City Public School System. Up to 15,000 students might have to retake third grade based on the number of students who failed last year’s exams.

Any IEP parent knows a single data point as an indicator of a child’s ability is nonsense.

What can I do if they want to retain my child?

So what is the response? It doesn’t matter what the cause of a student’s failure to succeed academically; expecting them to study the same material and experience the same instructional strategy for a second straight year is unlikely to benefit pupils struggling to perform academically. A struggling youngster needs further support, which requires other methods.

Before a child is retained, schools and teachers are typically required to speak with parents when deciding whether to use mandatory retention because they feel the youngster isn’t prepared and able to advance to the next grade level.

It might not seem like it in that meeting, but parents have a variety of measures to avoid having their child retained. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Ask what is your plan for intervention next year? No matter my child’s grade, offering the same instruction and expecting different results is not scientifically proven.
  2. Ask What Teaching Method or Style Was Used: Many students do not respond to certain teaching styles and need specialized instruction to succeed academically. Schools should offer that support to all students in need not only through RTI, but also testing students for special education that they believe may have a learning disability. Was this offered to your child?
  3. Request Copies of School Files: reading your child’s school file might give some insight as to why your child is being asked to remain in their current grade level;
  4. Ask Does The School Have An Intensive Reading Program: Many schools required to retain students have special programs intended to help students improve their reading abilities. This intervention could be used to avoid retention.

This advocate is only in favor of retention in very specific circumstances. I believe it does much more harm than good. If you want to chat more about this, set up a 20-minute consultation to talk.

Schedule a time for a free constultation with Lisa