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Should the School Retain My Child?

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My son is in Kindergarten and is in a special education program. When I went to a meeting at the school, I was told he did not qualify for placement in a regular first grade class. If he was promoted to first grade, he would flounder in a class with 24 children and 1 teacher and would not get any additional help.

My son has problems attending, and doesn't ask when he needs help. wonder if I should have pushed to have my son promoted and placed in a regular education class.

Wrightslaw Replies

It is not too late to change these plans for next year. It sounds like the school gave you information about your options in a way that ensured you would make the "right" decision (from the school's perspective). Your son would flounder? The school would not provide the the individualized services and supports they are required to provide?

You Have Support . . .

You need to get accurate information about retention. Included are a short article that summarizes retention issues, two articles about retention from the National Association of School Psychologists, and an article about retention and social promotion by a respected school psychologist.

To Promote or Retain. Summary of findings about retention.

Download and read these articles. If you decide you do not want your child to be retained, write a letter to the IEP team and ask them to meet with you before school begins to resolve this issue. Include copies of the articles from NASP with your letter.

. . . from the National Association of School Psychologists

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, retention does not help children who are academically delayed.

National Association of School Psychologists. Retention and Promotion: A Handout for Parents (1998).

"Research does not support the notion that retention helps children to 'catch up' and that 'social promotion' - sending children on to the next grade regardless of performance – pushes children through the school system without requiring mastery of basic skills.”

National Association of School Psychologists. Position Statement on Student Grade Retention and Social Promotion (1998).

“The National Association of School Psychologists promotes the use of interventions that are effective and research-based and discourages the use of practices which, though popular or widely accepted, are neither not beneficial or are harmful to the welfare and educational attainment of America’s children and youth. Through many years of research, the practice of retaining children in grade has been shown to be ineffective in meeting the needs of children who are academically delayed.”

Read the article, "Retention is Not the Answer," by a North Carolina school psychologist. This comprehensive article discusses retention and social promotion:

In light of the Position Statement from the National Association of School Psychologists, I hope the school psychologist will support you in revoking your decision.

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