Retention is Not a Form of “Specialized Instruction”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The school wanted to retain my son who has an IEP for OT, PT and Speech. They insisted he repeat second grade. I disagreed.

Now in third grade, his teachers want to send him back to second grade. They say his writing is not on par with a “normal” third grader’s writing.

He grasps all concepts of the curriculum, but has a cognitive processing issue.  He has difficulty understanding directions and the details of assignments.

Should I let the school retain him?

Specialized instruction, provided through an individualized education program (IEP), should be meeting your son’s unique needs.

Retention is not a form a specialized instruction.

Didn’t Work the First Time

Since his instruction in second grade the first time through did not meet his needs, it does not seem logical to repeat that again. Doing what did not work the first time makes no sense.

Meeting his needs through the IEP would be the logical approach.

The IEP can provide

  • year round school
  • a longer school day
  • as much individual teaching and related services as it takes to meet his needs

My suggestion is that you read all of these discussions of retention at

Then, hire an experienced advocate in your area to work with you to get an IEP that meets your son’s needs.

To find the experienced advocate, call the special education attorneys in your state who represent parents in due process hearings and ask them who they recommend as an advocate.

If you need to look further, these directories should help.

  1. My son was retained in seventh grade, we weren’t told until after the school year had ended. They weren’t offering summer school, however we tried to enroll him in other districts but we’re denied (not thier district)or werent offering his grade level. Now the new year has begun and I’ve contacted the school and still have not receive a return call. The vice principal has already begun making snide comments to my son! They never offered any help they never informed me of him not going to get help before and after school as agreed to! So now is it TO LATE FOR HIM TO PROMOTE? IS there anything we can do to help my son PROMOTE with his proper peers by the end of this school year?

    • Brenda, there are multiple issues involved here. What does the data and school progress reports say from the last school year in terms of his strengths and deficits? Was he non compliant with the plan to go for before/after school help last school year? You mentioned an agreement for him to get extra help. How was this agreement made? How and in what ways did your son and the school communicate with you his participation or lack of participation in the extra support? I would focus on what the student is accountable for as well as the school and parents. This is going to be a joint effort. I would call a meeting and just look at this term only in terms of “Progress markers” to see if your son is able to reach those markers for this terms and have your son involved in all meetings.

  2. My grandson just started the 2nd grade and is struggling with reading. He is doing well in other areas. His mother received a call from the principle saying that they are going to put him back in the 1st grade Monday because of his inability to grasp onto the concept of reading. They told her that they believe he is a “visual learner”, but he IS able to learn. If they “know” that this is his problem, then why can’t they work with him instead of traumatizing him further by the embarrassing 1st grade placement?? We desperately need help with this situation. He now says “I am stupid”, which is so far from the truth. This is crushing his spirit and I don’t want to see him become withdrawn because of it.

  3. As a school psychologist, this has been one of the hardest things to get teachers and administrators to recognize. Retention does not work! The research shows this very clearly and yet this often becomes a central part of the conversations we have on many struggling students. To have success with this issue it is important to a have school leader to be on board and develop a building level retention team that can use a structured scale to make more objective decisions.

  4. I agree that retention is not the answer. If it did not work once, what makes them think repeating will make a difference. Sounds like they are trying to pass the buck because they cannot get creative enough to direct your son in different ways. Kids are not a one size fits all when it comes to the curriculum. Many kids have different needs and teachers are trained, if they went to a good university, to Accommodate special needs. Do you know what works for your child? Maybe a meeting on how the school needs to be meeting his needs is in order. Don’t be afraid to approach the school board with your issues too. They are there to serve you and your son. Best wishes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *