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To Promote or Retain?

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Parents have to make tough decisions. If you have a child with a disability, the endof the school year may bring another tough decision. If your child isn't learning,should you hold the child back?

Many schools offer two "solutions" to children's learning problems: retention and referral to special education. All too often, schools fail to offer the critical third "R" - remediation.

What are the FACTS about retention? Does retention help? Does an extra year allow children to catch up?

In March 1998, the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) issuedtheir position paper on grade retention. Below are some excerpts from "To Promote or to Retain."

"Flunking is an expensive fad that wastes taxpayer monies."

"Grade retention costs as much as $13,000 per child per year." Retained children DO NOT catch up. "Retained children fall further behind and are at greater risk fordropping out of school."

"The weight of the evidence of literally hundreds of studies shows that retaining children does not produce higher achievement."

"Rather than flunking students, schools should provide high quality instruction for children who find learning difficult," says Sylvia Richardson, MD, Chair of theNational Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.

"Flunking penalizes children for the failure of school systems to develop effectiveinstructional plans for children who need more and better instruction if they are tosucceed. More of the same just does not work," Dr. Richardson explained.

Are you trying to decide how to help a struggling child? What are the alternatives?

Studies show that the most effective strategy for these children is intensive utoring by a qualified teacher. Intensive tutoring works.

"Children who find learning difficult benefit more from high quality instruction.

Providing a daily period of intensive tutoring by qualified personnel could cost halfas much as retention - and intensive tutoring reliably enhances achievement.

Retaining children does nothing to address the problems that make learning difficultfor some children."

From "LDA Newsbriefs" (Vol. 33, No. 2, March/April 1998)

Links to more articles about retention and social promotion


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