In today’s society, there is a large debate of what is best for a child’s learning development when they are below level in learning. Educators debate the fact about whether grade retention is good for a student, or is it more appropriate to advance them with their peers, and there is research available to support what is being said. What is meant by retention or non-promotion is having a child repeat a particular grade or requiring a child of appropriate age to postpone entry to the next grade.
In doing research I have found some interesting facts, and one of the biggest impacts I have found was by using the search engine to research positive effects of grade retention, the results that were found showed that there is not much available to support the facts. By retaining a child can be extremely hurtful to their self-esteem, risk ridicule and bullying from other children and may also increase behaviors caused by retention. Other things to consider would be at what cost will a child be retained, and what are the results as the child grows older. There are different options that could be considered as opposed to retention.
The cost of retaining a child varies from on an average of $5,000 per year and the cost of the child’s shame and embarrassment should also be considered. So why not take this money and apply it to meeting the needs of a student in the areas where he or she might require the help as opposed to causing any shame and embarrassment one might experience. As a mother of two classified children who were faced with learning disabilities and one who just had difficulty learning. I was always told the worst thing you can do to a child who has difficulty learning is retained them, let alone if they were classified.
For the simple fact that a child already beats themselves up by thinking they are stupid that they cannot learn what all their friends seem to be learning, and by doing this they are killing whatever self-esteem they have left. I found it helpful to know there was more than one option out there for my children. I made the choice not to have my children retained based on what I researched and what I thought was best for my children. My children stayed with their peers, obtained extra help by attending pull out service and in class support, and whatever other services were available by which was provided by my school district.
I also had the advantage of the government on my side because my children were classified; the school district received extra money for my children’s education. If a child is retained, it might give them the opportunity to relearn, refresh and acquire the skills that were missed the first time around and might help them move to the next grade level (Malone, 2005). But what happens when these children who get “caught up” in the skills and are not with their own peers? The ridicule that they receive from their new set of peers begins to set in and their self-esteem becomes crushed.
In addition, what happens after that first year of retention, when the child is caught up on that level and then begins to fall behind in the years to come? Does this child keep getting retained? Or does someone come up with new ideas? The intentions of the educators, I am sure, think they are doing what is best for the child, but in reality is seems to be more of a gamble. When a child does not meet the standards of the school district to continue with his or her peers, some feel it makes sense to retain them and let them repeat the grade.
The hope is that these children will pass the grade the second time around. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, as a nation we fail to promote 13% of our students (Bowser, 1998). According to Philip Bowser (NEA Today, 1998), a district-wide school psychology, who had followed children who were retained over the years, the results might have seemed good after the first year, but as time went on things with these children did not appear to be particular pretty.
He witnessed children who did not make the academic progress as others had wished, and at the same time, these children developed measurable deficits in mental health problems. He also observed that the “Old for grade” adolescents increase the risk for substance abuse, earlier age of sexual introduction, behavioral problems and emotional distress (including suicidal thoughts). Comparing retained students with similar students who were socially promoted frequently shows that most students do not catch up when they are held back; even though they seem to do better at first, they tend to fall behind again in future grades.
The results are most likely to become alienation from school and eventually drop out and these finding are just as much for kindergarten and first-graders held back because they were alleged to lack maturity or readiness as they do for older students. By using retention as an option it provides either no achievement benefit or only a short lived advantage comparative to social promotion, and the inflict cost on the retained students, their teachers, and the school system.
According to the studies, the children most likely to be retained are small in physique or youngest in their grade, more boys than girls, who often moved around from home to home and or from low-income families whose parents are not involved in their schooling and also have a lower educational achievement. These students who are often retained have a lower achievement in reading and language arts compared to most students in the classroom; however, there are often peers who are equally low-achieving but promoted (Jimerson, Carlson, Rotert, Egeland, & Sroufe 1997; Sandoval, 1998).
Educators feel by retaining children they are offering them the gift of time to store up on learning and prepare for the future. When in reality school districts are just trying to improve on the standardize tests. In researching this subject, I have found mixed emotions on the topic of retention, and it has seemed to me that although some might think one is better than the other, I feel the answer lies in the other options that are out there for children besides retention. If a child or children can be promoted with their peers and offered other solutions to their academic issues then why not help these children the best way we know how?
If we start at an early age helping these children by offering preschool intervention programs, we could be getting a jump on the problems. According to Casto & Mastropieri, 1986; Zigler & Styfco, 2000 A primary purpose of preschool intervention programs is generally to assist at-risk students before they experience academic challenges, through enhancing foundation skills necessary for subsequent academic success. Basic literacy skills, pro social behaviors, and socio emotional development are often emphasized in pre-school programs. By enhancing skills for academic success through preschool programs, retention maybe prevented (p.52)
Other solutions might consist of comprehensive program to help promote a child’s social and academic development such as that help integrate strategies to promote children’s academics by having after school programs and or summer school programs where children can seek extra help in the academic areas that need reinforcing. Another idea that can be offered is Looping and Multi-Age classrooms. Looping is a classroom in which a child can spend more than one year with one teacher so this teacher can provide the instruction that is needed and embrace a child’s strength in the process of learning.
Multi-Age classrooms allow students of different ages and abilities to move ahead at his or her own pace and the possibility to learn from one another (May, Kundert, & Brent, 1995) By districts offering other solutions to retention such as parent involvement, early reading programs and effective strategies with academics and behavior modification programs it will be making long term goals for these children as opposed to the short term objective of a child being retained.
Parents need to be aware of their rights and their children’s right and realize that sometimes we do know what is best for our children and just because someone says or thinks retention is in your child’s best interest, just do not agree, they should know the facts and know what is available for their children. By educating themselves as parents is the best defense they have to protect their children and their right to an education that meets their needs.
These solutions are clear that by assisting children and helping them gaining the knowledge and self-esteem to learn it will help reduce the rate of children wanting to drop out in the long run. It will allow for them to get the education they want, let alone deserve. The success rate will be higher and the educators and parents can be proud of the choices they made to help children progress and succeed in life. So to use the words of social promotion is not exactly fair because it sounds like a child only gets promoted for social reasons.
In fact, it is the right of these children to go to school with other children their own age. Then the educators can provide the help these children need and deserve when falling behind in their academics and cognitive skills, and not just to say retention is the only way they have to go. Reference Bowser, P. B. Can Retention Be Good for a Student?. Retrieved February 1, 2008, Web site: http://www. roseburg. k12. or. us/sec/handouts/GRADRETE. htm Casto, G. , & Mastropieri, M. A. (1986).
The efficacy of early intervention programs: A meta-analysis. Exceptional Children,52, 417– 424. Jimerson, S. R. , Carlson, E. , Rotert, M. , Egeland, B. , & Sroufe, L. A. (1997). A prospective, longitudinal study of the correlates and consequences of early grade retention. Journal of School Psychology, 35, 3–25. May, D. C. , Kundert, D. K. , & Brent, D. (1995). Does delayed entry reduce later grade retentions and use of special education services? Remedial and Special Education, 16, 288–294.
Sandoval, J. (1984). Repeating the first grade: How the decision is made. Psychology in the Schools, 21, 457– 462. Social Promotion – In Comparison to Grade Retention, Advantage and Disadvantages, Different Perspectives. In Education Encyclopedia – StateUniversity. com: Education Encyclopedia [Web]. Retrieved 1/31/2008, from http://education. stateuniversity. com/pages/2431/Social-Promotion. html”>Social Promotion – In Comparison to Grade Retention, Advantages and Disadvantages, Different Perspectives.