Your views on retention

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I used to be pro non-retention, because I didn't think it helped, but I've since changed my mind. I changed my mind because I started teaching 3rd (from 5th) and realized the harm that can be done when students have missed the fundamentals.

    I have a very low (but very sweet) group of kids this year. I still have kids that struggle with place value, number sense, fluency, etc. It makes me sad because I know they can't pass the end-of-grade test and will probably end up being retained. I can't shake the feeling that if they were retained in 2nd they'd be so much more successful in 3rd. But my principal rarely retains students and would rather let the 3rd grade test 'catch them.' While I'm sure retention is going to help in 3rd, I feel like retention in 2nd would have given the students a better foundation for 3rd.

    I think retention in K-2 can be beneficial, and retention in 3-6 is less beneficial. What do you think?
     
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  3. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    I think you are right on as long as the retention is successful. That is, if a child is scoring 1's (on a scale of 1-5) and then is retained only to scores 1.5's or 2's, then the retention was not successful and now even more damage has been potentially done.

    If a child is scoring 1.5's and then is retained and scores 3's....well then, now we are in the ball park of finding some success.

    Retention is a difficult and complicated subject and must be used only when the payoff is there and the interventions being used are clear and working.
     
  4. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    It needs to happen in first or kinder and is only beneficial for children with fall birthdays who were 4 when they entered kindergarten and should have been kept out anyway.

    With that said, I get about two children a year who fit that description.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Retention without a very well planned remediation plan that is intense and targeted to the weakness of the student doesn't help. It just harms the student academically and socially.

    Another year of the same, particulary when they are really behind won't catch them up anymore than the 1st go around did for the same reasons the first go around didn't. The classroom teacher doesn't have the time to devote to targeting the students deficient skills.
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I agree with that Pisces. We aren't allowed to retain in Kinder because it's not mandatory. I think if they are not reading at the end of 1st Grade they definitely need to be retained. They could get a whole year more starting at the beginning of the fundamentals. Maybe they weren't mature enough to grasp it the 1st time.

    My issue is I think some of these kids have learning disabilities or something that prevents them from actually being able to read-but we can't get them tested because they are too young. They wait until they hit the testing grades of 3rd-5th. If that's the case, then another year probably isn't what they need.
     
  7. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I agree with this. Data on retention is largely poor - it almost never works, except in cases where it is part of a very specific, individualized plan to do something different, and that "different" can be best done in the same grade the next year.
     
  8. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    I am of the belief that retention is a terrible idea, and should be banned. There is no substantial proof that it works, and there is a lot of evidence that it not only doesn't work, but also causes more problems down the line. The ideas you post are very real, and have been proven over and over. Students need remediation, but that remediation can be done in the next grade just as easily (or uneasily) as in the current grade.

    EDIT: here is a link on a study on retention that is located at the NASP website. Hope you can all access it.
    http://www.nasponline.org/publications/spr/pdf/spr351silberglitt.pdf
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    There was some research a few years ago in Florida (statewide) that retention produced some positive results for African-American, FRL elementary school boys when examining state test scores. Still, most research does not support it.

    The problem with the idea of retention is that it is often viewed as the intervention itself, rather than a condition for intervention. Similarly, a lot of times people think 1:1 instruction is an intervention for children struggling with reading difficulty, when in fact it's just a condition - it's where the intervention takes place. Same with retention. If retention were used as part of a strategy where there was substantial individualization, it might show different results.

    Still, your point is a good one - a lot of those interventions could be done in the next grade level. One thing I would consider is what resources would be available at each level, and what could change if the child were to repeat the grade again. For example, if I knew a child was in 2nd grade, was in a previous class where there were no guided reading/DI reading groups, there was another second grade teacher who did an excellent job of this, there were no third grade teachers doing reading groups, and no supplemental reading interventions in general education, I would consider retention - placing the student in the other 2nd grade classroom.
     
  10. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    When I do record reviews for students that I am assessing in high school, I often come across students who were retained early in school. They still have many of the same types of difficulties that they had in elementary, and retention didn't really seem to do anything for them. While the kids that I have assessed may still be in school, there is evidence that retention in early grades often leads to higher rates of dropping out in high school.

    I agree with you when you say that retention should not be the intervention itself. There has to be a structured, focused intervention. But I firmly believe that it would be more beneficial to conduct those interventions in the next grade level, as opposed to retaining them.
     
  11. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I agree that retention without a solid plan to provide the much needed remediation is going to hurt more than help. To be honest, I don't know where I stand in this issue.

    Working in the inner city with students in 7th and 8th grade who have figured out the system can be challenging many times. I attribute some behavior problems to the fact that these students know that they can't be retained even if they don't do their work.

    As years go by the gaps keep growing bigger and bigger and by the time they get to higher grades we have students who don't even know their basics and we have to teach them Algebra.

    When I was in college I had several classmates who couldn't pass the teacher's certification test because of the math portion that was at an 8th grade level. I couldn't believe it. How can not retaining work?

    Yes, retaining can affect students and emotionaly but isn't it much worse to move them to the next grade level and be even more lost?
     
  12. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I agree that it has to happen in the lower grades. I don't even consider it an option for my 4th grade students.
     
  13. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    I taught a 4/5 split class that had some 5th graders who had been retained twice when they were younger. That meant that I had little tiny 9-year-old boys with big 13-year-old girls in the same room. They were on such different levels developmentally and emotionally that it wasn't even funny.
     
  14. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    I also agree that retaining students has more negative effects on the child than positive ones. A lot of research has shown a higher drop out rate as well.

    There are students though, who know that no matter what, they won't ever be retrained and therefore, feel like it's ok if they don't have passing grades, etc. . . Have you all experienced this?
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I have mixed feelings, but I know that I am frustrated when I have a student fail every class each term and move to the seventh grade. I don't know if retention would help these students—it's the "human" in me that grows frustrated because I know there is a problem yet I don't know how to resolve it. It's as though we accept that these students will be drop-outs in a few years anyhow. Since we pass them, they should at least enter a special program that provides a mentor for these students...something. :(

    So, what do you do when you have a student with failing averages in most or all classes beyond the third grade? In sixth grade in particular?
     
  16. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think this is a great example of why RtI is needed in schools - providing support beyond traditional strategies such as (traditional) special education, retention, etc. A school with a truly integrated RtI process wouldn't need to rely on retention, because they'd have tons of resources to throw toward the child anyway.
     
  17. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    OK-- my 2 cents, I teach a retention class. My kids are students that have spring and summer birthdays. They need to have skills before being invited into my class. They have to have the ability to learn in 1st, but lack social skills or maturity to succeed. I have been tracking these kids for the last few years. The ones that are meant to be in my class...not the ones that have learning problems or discipline problems (they seem to come from the same two kindergarten teachers' rooms), seem to be doing great. They are the ones that are on honor roll. They are the leaders. In fact, the third grade class is honored by the American Legion for having leaders (must be a good citizen, have good grades, and be liked by peers). Each class nominates two students. The nominations this year were 1/4 my students from that group of kids. The ones in that class that I told the principal the second week of school had no business being in my class have all tested for special education.

    My belief that holding children back for maturity is successful (and sometimes that means that they academically struggle because they don't have the maturity to sit, listen and learn). Retaining a child because you "hope they catch up" or "because parents won't test them" won't work. Teachers need to really look at why they are retaining kids and schools need to find better testing/evaluating techs to determine learning disabilities.
     
  18. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I held my youngest son back in the 1st grade last year. The decision was mostly due to maturity issues. He went from overwhelmed and miserable to happy and successful almost overnight. Like mrachelle's students, he's a late spring birthday, but he was also a micro-preemie and has some maturity issues and developmental delays as a result. I will sometimes joke around that he's just on his conception schedule, not his birth schedule, since if he'd been born on his due date, he'd be exactly where he is now.
     
  19. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    MMSWM, In the years I have been teaching this class, I have only had two parents state that they wish that they didn't do it. Both boys were discipline problems and if I was honest, hard to deal with daily. One needed the class and he belonged, but his parents didn't like me. The other, I think mom signed the papers without input from dad. They moved three months into the school year so that they could place him in 1st grade because my district wouldn't. Joke was on them, when the other school called for records our secretary explained our class and they (the new school) placed him in kindergarten.
     
  20. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    I also have the same frustruation. I wonder if those of us in middle school share this same concern since we may encounter many more students who don't care and fail classes on purpose since they know they can't be retained.
     
  21. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I teach a multiage class (late 6 years to early 9) and am probably going to retain one girl this year. That will mean she's in my room for 3 years instead of the usual 2. She has a November birthday and will still be well within the age range next year. At my school, retention is called the gift of another year and frame it as another example of everyone getting what they need, not necessarily the same as everyone else.

    The young lady in question performs at or near grade level in most subjects, but has unrealistically low self evaluations. Last year she was consumed with the idea that she was by far the youngest in the class. I think this is the perfect time to give her the gift of another year.
     

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