February 9, 2017

Parent Chat: Should My Child With Reading Struggles Repeat a Grade?

It’s a topic that arises from time to time on our Learning Ally Parent Chatshould I hold my child who has a learning disability back one year? 

Frustrated Student

Here are some recent answers from parents discussing the topic. Names changed for privacy: 

Susan: “I’ve yet to see retention improve a dyslexic child’s reading and writing. More of the same isn’t the answer.”

Jill: “The gap widens as your child gets older if you don’t provide the right interventions. By 4th grade the children are reading to learn instead of learning to read. Retention isn’t the best option. The right interventions are. Accommodations will become more important as your child gets older. I’d suggest focusing on these factors instead of retaining your child. It could cause emotional harm in the long run.”

Anne: “Perhaps your IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) team needs to evaluate his goals so that more progress can be made. You have pretty good info right now that says he is not closing the gap.”

Jennifer:I have a student currently that repeated 1st grade with the same teacher. The results were the same as her first time around.”

Molly: “My question is how is he doing social/emotionally? Does he view the group of students he is with as his peers? Or is he always playing with the students that are a grade younger? My personal belief is retention based on academic gains alone is NOT best for students. The exception is if a student is not keeping up emotionally/socially. That is actually the standard for my children’s district (regardless of IEP or not.)”

LA-2175_LRAmber:I am not totally against retention in certain circumstances. If you have a summer birthday child who is the youngest in the room or if there are global maturity issues AND the repeated year will be at a different school with a TOTALLY different approach. The problem with retention is the goals are adjusted backwards to the repeated grade and because you child will likely not be as far behind they will get less services. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting different results.”

Lori: “I am very surprised to hear most parents are against this. Retention was the best decision we ever made. We made the decision along with the school. It was a hard decision to make, for sure. It was tough on my child for the first few months, but she persevered and is doing very well.”

Jodan: “Agree … Parents know best. Period. Retention or even just redshirting (which is holding them back from kindergarten) is a tough choice. It’s not so much the retention itself that raises a flag for me … It’s the persistent gap. Because if you don’t tweak the intervention and the AT … Holding back for a year will only be a temporary, superficial solution.”

Allison: “Repeating a grade is one of the risk factors for teens dropping out of school. Keep him with his peers and remediate and accommodate. Repeating does more harm than good in the long run.”

Natalie: “The good thing about dyslexia, when a child receives good dyslexia instruction, they start making leaps and bounds of reading growth. You need to be aware of grade level ranges for reading material. Depending on the measurement system, your child’s grade level of reading can be very subjective. Remember, you are the only person on the IEP team not judged by your child reading the goals that were set each year.”

Learning Ally LogoWhat do you think? Comment below with your experience and/or advice. Need more information about dyslexia or related learning disabilities? Log onto LearningAlly.org. 

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– Jules Johnson


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