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How Does Grade Retention Affect Children With Learning Disabilities?

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A parent’s heart is filled with fear and panic when they hear “retention.” You might receive a letter from your school informing you that your child is a candidate for grade retention at the end of this school year at any time in the upcoming three months if you are the parent of a struggling student. Although you were aware of your child’s difficulties, you hadn’t considered keeping them in the same grade for an additional year. Your mind starts to race with inquiries. Is this required? How can I tell if my child will perform better if they remain in the same grade for an additional year? How will this impact my child’s sense of worth and confidence? Your child’s success is something you want for them, but how do you ensure it? Which option is the best one?

What Are Learning Disabilities – How Does Grade Retention Affect Children With Learning Disabilities?

What are learning disabilities? The ability to comprehend or use spoken or written language, perform mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, or focus attention are all impacted by different types of learning disabilities. Although they can occur in very young children, learning disabilities are typically not identified until the child is of school age.

Types Of Learning Disabilities What Are Learning Disabilities

What are learning disabilities? Each student has their unique learning style and individual strengths and challenges. A learning challenge can impact a student’s capacity to know. Typical types of learning disabilities include:

  • Dyslexia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Disordered hyperactivity and attention deficit (ADHD)
  • Developmental disorder of coordination (DCD)
  • Developmental disruption of language (DLD).

Specific types of learning disabilities are terms used to describe dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.

What Does Retention Mean?

Retention refers to a student remaining in the same academic grade for an additional year. It’s also referred to as retaking a grade. The opposite of social promotion is when underachieving and struggling students have an increased rate despite difficulties in the classroom.

Will Grade Retention Help My Child?

The evidence suggests that when children repeat the exact grade, their academic performance initially improves at the start of the school year. This frequently occurs because most of the material covered at the beginning of the school year is a review of what was covered the previous year.

However, this improvement in academic performance lessens over time. Repeating the same grade will only benefit the child if there is adequate academic support and intervention for the areas where the child is struggling. Research supports this.

What Does The Research Say About Grade Retention?

Is retention research possible? Does there exist any proof that this will help or hurt your child? Yes, that is the answer. There is indeed research. An increasing amount of research is showing that retention is harmful. The case against keeping a child in the same grade for an additional year is made even stronger by anecdotal evidence.

First off, children with learning disabilities, including those who have dyslexia and other types of learning disabilities, are NOT helped by retention. The only way to assist these students is to teach them effectively, evidence-based methods. Nothing will change if this is not done. It may be necessary to have your child evaluated if you are unsure whether they have a learning disability.

First off, children with learning disabilities, including those who have dyslexia, are NOT helped by retention. It may be necessary to have your child evaluated if you are unsure whether they have a learning disability.

The only way to assist these students is to teach them effectively, evidence-based methods. Nothing will change if this is not done. The National Association of School Psychologists has published an official position paper opposing retention. They encourage personnel and school districts to find retention alternatives instead.

NASP Position Statement on Grade Retention and Social Promotion

According to a recent study by Megan Andrew, a sociologist at Notre Dame, retention at any age will be detrimental to the child. She found that drop-out rates for retained kids increased to 60%.

The main lesson to be learned from Ms. Andrew is: In her email response, she clarified that holding a child back a grade is a very individual choice and that her study was not intended to be a parent’s how-to manual on retention. Whether you are having your child before or moving him on to the next grade, the most crucial thing is to address his underlying academic issues.

Everything will remain the same if the underlying academic issue is addressed. Bright Solutions for Dyslexia founder Susan Barton has excellent information on retention and how it may impact a dyslexic child. Visit her website and select the “How to Get Help” tab from the menu. Click “Retention Doesn’t Work” in the sidebar after that.

Even well-known parenting publications publish articles that are not in favor of retention. Should Your Child Repeat Kindergarten? was published in Parents Magazine in 2002. Since then, the body of research opposing retention has gotten deeper. On retention, the parent has the final say. A great website that can help you learn how to fight for your child is Wright’s Law. Every week, they get dozens of emails from parents asking if keeping their child in the same grade for another year is the best course of action. Consider what they have to say.

When Grade Retention May Help – Children With Learning Disabilities

Retention may enhance a child’s academic performance in certain situations. Retention generally benefits when:

  • Due to absences, a child has missed a lot of schools.
  • Because of frequent family moves and attendance at multiple schools, instruction needs to be more balanced.
  • Due to her late birthday, the child is one year younger than most of her grade-level peers.
  • The child’s capacity to stay on task, pay attention, and maintain stamina in class has been negatively impacted by severe illnesses or emotional trauma.

When Grade Retention May Not Help – Children With Learning Disabilities

Research on retention efficiency has revealed that retention needs to be frequently improved to address students’ learning issues. Retention alone might not be helpful if a student is underachieving, has a learning disability, or is struggling with another learning issue. Students will require more educational support in these situations, such as:

  • Additional instruction in disadvantaged areas outside of the school day.
  • School-specific interventions that target weak academic areas.
  • Referral to the special education team at the school to think about screening or evaluation to identify any potential learning disabilities

The following are some drawbacks of grade retention:

  • Student’s self-esteem may suffer as their friends advance in grades without them.
  • Around children who are smaller and appear younger, students who are physically more mature may feel insecure.

What Can Be Done to Avoid Problems With Retention?

  • Make sure that any attendance issues are resolved. Frequent absent students are more likely to fall further behind and, statistically, have a higher chance of dropping out than other students.
  • Any health issues that may hinder a child’s learning ability should be addressed. Speak with your child’s school’s principal about the possibility of homebound tutoring if your child misses class time due to illness or medical treatment. Make arrangements for teachers to give you homework your child can finish at home. If it’s necessary for your child with a disability to receive specially created instruction at home to achieve the objectives of her individualized education program.
  • If you decide not to keep her, think about the available support for her and the expectations set in the classroom. Frequent moves are occasionally unavoidable, but parents can lessen the effects on their kids by collaborating with the schools to figure out how to help their kids catch up at home. To address academic issues brought on by moving, tutoring outside school hours might not be available. Parents must be ready to provide extensive support at home or through private programs at their own expense.
  • You can assess your child’s needs, general support, and the likelihood of his success if he is promoted rather than retained with the assistance of his teachers, counselor, and school principal.

Impact of Retention on Student Mental Health

Students who do not meet academic standards or perform above designated percentiles on standardized tests risk being retained as teachers and administrators are pushed to implement policies to “end social promotion.” It needs to be clarified if this threat encourages students to put in more effort. However, this pressure is likely making kids more anxious about doing well in school. By the time they reached the sixth grade, surveys of children’s perceptions of twenty stressful life events had revealed that, after losing a parent and becoming blind, children feared retention the most. 

Grade retention was rated as the most stressful life event by sixth-grade students in this study’s replication in 2001, ranking higher than losing a parent or going blind. This finding is probably influenced by the demands on standards-based testing programs, which frequently base promotions and graduation on test scores. Multiple studies on retention have been analyzed, and the results show that compared to their promoted peers, retained students have lower rates of school attendance and self-esteem. Both of these elements also increase the likelihood of dropping out of school. Poor school attendance and low self-esteem have an indirect impact on adult outcomes. 

In a Nutshell

It is crucial to stress to parents and educators that a century of research has failed to show the advantages of grade retention over promotion to the next grade for any group of students when weighing the pros and cons of a decision to retain or promote a student. Instead, we must put more effort into implementing research-supported prevention and intervention strategies to help all students succeed in the classroom by fostering social and cognitive competence. Focusing on the types of learning disabilities is essential to ensure that retention does not occur.

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