museme's picture

trying to decide on retention

I've read tons on whether or not to hold a child back in school but I still wonder about what the right decision is for us. My son is recommended for retention because of poor reading skills. He just finished first grade, is an early-March baby, and is possibly ADHD.

In Kindergarten, he had a first year teacher who had a very difficult class (one would steal things or tear things up, one child threw fits and ran out of the classroom) but also struggled with classroom management. (The school acknowledged all of this.)

Many of the same kids were in his first grade class with a veteran teacher who admitted that controlling these children was difficult. This teacher has had personal issues and was placed on administrative leave for over a month during the year for an incident with a child (details unknown but supposedly grabbing the child). I was also receiving letters from the school saying my son could be a candidate for the gifted and talented program based on test scores. In March, the school decided he should be pulled out for reading assistance. The literacy coach said he improved but indicated tendencies similar to his dyslexic older brother (who is also ADHD and has Asperger's Syndrome).

We have him in summer programs and he is improving but is not where he should have been at the end of the year. If he is truly as intelligent as his teachers have told me and he is held back, I'm concerned he will be bored since other subjects are not a problem. I agree he has poor reading skills but given the aforementioned circumstances, is retention the right decision? What questions should I ask and whom because I don't feel the school thinks they failed him?

summer5kids's picture

i can not tell you what to do but i can give you insight from a parent who held her child back in grade 3 ,after years of her having trouble in school with reading we made the hard choice of keeping her back ,i spent that whole summer second guessing myself and the choices i had made for her ,we also had spent her summers getting extra help which would help some but it never seemed to be enough .i had her tested 2 x and each time was told she did not need extra help at school very upsetting because i had a child who struggled to read on grade but yet was to smart to get help .we made it to grade 3 that is when the most trouble hit they have a eog to pass at the end of the year where we live and to be on grade you must make a 3 or higher she made 1's ,the math test is more like reading if you have trouble in reading you have trouble in math even if you can do the math ,we were caught in a war and had 1 week left of 3rd grade i say war because that is what it was like ! the school said summer school i said NO we had at this point spent every yr during the summer working my child to try and catch up to the next grade she would be going into after the summer break and at this time i had ,had enough and so had she we decided no and they kept her back i had already told her they would so we both were not shocked ,we entered 3 rd for the second time the frist few weeks were a night mare she cried everyday before and after sch,she took about 3 wks to make friends she at times still misses her old friends but many still scream and run and hug her when they see her she has new great friends and loves school for the first time since she steped foot in to building in grade k she still though did not pass her eog's but her teachers say she does not test well but she is on grade level now .nearing the end of this past sch yr she and i both were sick of the same class room for 2 yrs and same hall way for 3 yrs ,if you do hold him back i would make sure to go with a different teacher and room the mix up will help with the being bored ,their has been times when she has said " i god mom we did this last year "she did get bored some and the field trips we didnt do them again we did our own thing instead those days .also her best friend did not stay back went to summer school that year and is a grade ahead of my child because we stayed back and my daughter is better at reading and math than a lot in her old grade so i still to this moment wonder if we stayed back for no reason .but i remind myself that she is doing good now ,has lots of friends ,is very happy in school now before she says she was scared ,had trouble remembering things and was last on everything she is not top of her grade but not bottom either like before .best luck no one persons choices can decide any ones choice we had good and bad the year we stayed back i would talk to someone out from your school who has nothing to loose from saying the school did not do their job you will never get them to admit if they did fail him i learned that in first grade when she sit and played in a doll house most of the year find a place out side of school ,have him tested out side of school ,my daughter has ADD and my older has ADHD the older is in honors ,and makes 4 's on all her test if he has it he can still go far with the right teachers .

Only2boys's picture


My first thought is that you need to find out exactly what is going on with this child. You mentioned your other son's disabilities, so I'm assuming you had testing done on him for the diagnoses made. If your older child is in the Autism spectrum, then your second child has more chances of being in the spectrum as well. Many Asperger's children are brillant. Does your younger son have the same characteristics as your child with Asperger's? (Lack of eye contact, poor social skills, something they have a passion for, etc?)

If at all possible I would take him to a children's hospital for testing. They should be helpful in guiding you with your decision to retain or not. I think you need the whole picture of your child to make a good decision.

Has the school psychologist tested your son for a learning disability and/or ADD? Have you talked to your son's pediatrician?

If your child is diagnosed as having ADD and put on medicine you may see a tremendous growth in him, maybe in just a short time period. Also it sounds like they just had started any support for him in reading. Is that to continue next year? Is there an IEP or 504 in place for your child?

What does the veteran teacher that your son just had say about retention? Where I taught you didn't hold back kids who were classified as learning disabled. They were either pulled out or an teacher or aide came into the classroom and gave them extra support.

Could you hire a tutor to work with your child on his reading?

These are just my thoughts as a teacher and mom of an Austism Spectrum child (possibly two). Good luck and hang in there.


P.S. It might be a good idea to have your son's eyes and ears checked as well to make sure that there isn't a problem there.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

Does your son have an IEP? I think you shld look into this. Also, I agree you need to find out exactly what's going on w/ your son. Get him evaluated privately, especially if leaning disabilities run in your family. One thing I've learned, however, is if your child is receiving special education, you won't be able to hold him back. Supposedly it goes against special ed law. What schools are doing is they're modifying these kids' work and doing whatever they have to to get them by. In my opinion, this no child left behind law is a nightmare. Kids aren't really learning, and in all truth, the schools are failing them. Be wary of this, and make sure you educate yourself fully. You want what's best for your kids. Don't accept any less. If you do, your child will be yet another statistic of the failed education system in this country. Good luck!

casey22's picture

yes you are so right the no child left behind is a huge joke ,but i do know a child who was held back with a IEP it just depends on the IEP i guess ,but now that he has a 504 plan they did not hold back this past year in fact since their is now no summer school i dont think they kept any kids back at our schools so now we will have kids in grades who can not do the work and keep falling even more behind it is a shame ,with no summer school and less teachers meaning bigger classrooms i feel sorry for the children who do struggle such a shame !!!!