Why Retain? - It Didn't Work the First Time
by Sue Whitney, Research Editor, Wrightslaw
"The school wants to retain my son. He is in
kindergarten with an IEP. His latest DIBELS test shows him to be at moderate risk of
failure in some areas and high risk in others.
I've read that retention is not a good option and that any short term gains disappear in the long run.
principal says that
he has 'recent' research that shows the benefits of retention.
He says the recommendations
for phonological awareness instruction is too new to show the long term benefits of retention."
The reason for progress monitoring is to know if and when more intensive reading instruction is needed, not to see who should redo the same
unsuccessful reading instruction all over again for a second year.
Ask the person who is quoting the retention "research" for a copy of what he
is talking about. Otherwise, ignore it.
The Real Issue
son could have learned to read with this type and level of instruction he
would have already learned to read.
The principal is just attempting to take the
focus off the real issue. Your son has not learned to read even after
several tiers of increased intensity of instruction.
1. You should copy the National Association of School Psychologist's (NASP) position
statement on grade retention to clarify the retention discussion.
2. Write a
letter requesting a complete evaluation to determine if your child has a
Go to this Parent Information Center website to find a sample letter requesting an evaluation.
Definition of Reading
The term 'reading' means a complex system of
deriving meaning from print that requires all of the following:
skills and knowledge to understand how phonemes, or speech sounds, are
connected to print.
(B) The ability to decode unfamiliar words.
ability to read fluently.
(D) Sufficient background information and
vocabulary to foster reading comprehension.
(E) The development of
appropriate active strategies to construct meaning from print.
development and maintenance of a motivation to read.
20 U.S.C. § 6368 (5) No Child Left Behind
Congress has reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act (ESEA), the statute formerly known as No Child Left
Behind. The new statute, Every Student Succeeds Act, was signed into law by President Obama on December 10, 2015.
Florida Center for Reading Research
This is information on what an appropriate reading evaluation should contain
The American Federation of Teachers website has an excellent article about
the need to avoid delay in getting appropriate instruction, Preventing Early
Multisensory Structured Language Teaching. This publication from the International Dyslexia Association explains multisensory teaching as one important aspect of instruction for dyslexic students that is used by clinically trained teachers. Effective instruction for students with dyslexia is also explicit, direct, cumulative, intensive, and focused on the structure of language.
If you get the run around please do not hesitate to check in again for
additional information or links.
Meet Sue Whitney
Sue Whitney of Manchester, New Hampshire, works with families as a special education advocate and is the research editor for Wrightslaw.
In Doing Your Homework, Suzanne Whitney gives savvy advice about reading, research based instruction, and creative strategies for using education standards to advocate for children and to improve public schools.
Her articles have been reprinted by SchwabLearning.org, EducationNews.org, Bridges4Kids.org, The Beacon: Journal of Special Education Law and Practice, the Schafer Autism Report, and have been used in CLE presentations to attorneys.
Sue is the co-author of Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind (ISBN: 978-1-892320-12-4) that was
published by Harbor House Law Press, Inc.
She also served on New Hampshire's Special Education State Advisory Committee on the Education of Students/Children with Disabilities (SAC).
Sue Whitney's bio.
Copyright © 2002-2022 by Suzanne Whitney.