Teachers' Opinions Needed

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by Kimjo, Jan 1, 2006.

  1. Kimjo

    Kimjo New Member

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    Jan 1, 2006

    Hello, my name is Kim Olivares. I am a student at Chapman University in Santa Maria, California. I am currently conducting research about grade retention in elementary schools.

    I requested permission to post this information a few days ago but haven’t heard back yet. I am not selling anything so hopefully I’m not violating any forum rules.

    There are many studies that have examined the success/failure of retention, however, I was only able to find one, very small study that considered teachers’ opinions on the matter. I feel that since teachers have the most influence in the decision to retain, their thoughts on the matter should be examined. I am hoping that the Internet can help me to reach a good number of participants.

    If you are an elementary teacher in the United States, I would very much appreciate a few minutes of your time to complete the survey below.

    If you are interested in the results of this study, you will have an opportunity to be put on an email list. The research should be completed by the end of January 2006.

    Please, click on the link at the bottom of this post to take the survey. The survey will be available until January 5, 2006. Please, feel free to forward this to other elementary teachers.

    I will be posting this on several boards to reach as many teachers as possible. I apologize if you see it several times.

    ~ Thank you ~Kim

    The address for the survey is:

    [This site would not let me insert a link because I'm a new member. If you are able to take the survey, please click on my ID and choose to send an email to me requesting the survey link. I cannot insert my email address here either. Good saftety precautions but it means a little more trouble for volunteers. If you email me, remember to include your email address, otherwise, I think no return email address will show. All participants are anonymous and their email addresses will be kept confidential. I will be the only person with access to them. Thank you ~Kim]
     
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  3. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Jan 2, 2006

    Can we just tell you right here?

    I am not an elementary teacher, but I taught middle school (6,7,8) for 26 years. The students who were not retained in the elementary grades who were 'passed along' for social, size, parental objection, and 'self esteem' purposes came to us already way behind the others. I am all for retention. I do not believe in promotion under false premises. If a child does not qualify, the child should not be allowed to go to the next level. It sends messages to the kids that stay with them forever, such as, "why do the work like Billy did, when I can get the same rewards by doing NOTHING?"

    In the old days, a student often stayed in Grade 4, for example, for YEARS. I know that parents do not want a hulking 17-year-old sitting by their sweet little 9-year-old, but hey. I just do not believe in rewarding anyone for anything they did not actually do.

    As for the self esteem thing: it's worthless unless it's actually and truly EARNED. Every child in the world knows this. It's the adults who seem to have a hard time with it.

    Promotion should be on a 100% EARNED basis. And don't even get me started on the athletic thing. (Firm believe in no pass, no play concept here. No exceptions.)
     
  4. Kimjo

    Kimjo New Member

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    Jan 2, 2006

    Re: Can we just tell you right here?

    Jane,

    Thanks a bunch for your opinion. I must say that I agree with you 100%... and you put it so well. When I first had this topic on my mind for my research I was thinking along the lines of - WHY do these children keep getting promoted when they are SO SO far below grade level??!!!!!! I work at an elementary school, currently working in the computer lab as I work my way through school... and I see 5th and 6th graders that really can't read! It's shameful in my opinion... When I began searching for information on my topic all I found was "Grade Retention Doesn't Work", "Grade Retention is Harmful" etc.... and I started to think that if that is true then WHY would teachers still retain students?? My personal opinion is that teachers know something that studies don't show... for example studies that show a higher drop out rate among children who've been retained... I think - Well chances are THESE kids would have been drop outs whether they were retained or socially promoted! Part of my work is analyzing and criticizing past research : ) I suppose I should not have expressed my personal opinion on the matter, to keep a neutral view for any participants that might read this.. But my survey will be closed in a couple days.

    Again, thanks for your input.

    And thank you to everyone who has replied. ~Kimjo
     
  5. hanvan

    hanvan Connoisseur

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    I once heard that if a child is retained he or she is not likely to graduate from high school then the same person said but if the child does not learn to read and write he or she is not likely to graduate from high school. Isn't that sad? Whats the answer if both are true?

    Also we had a pair of twins one needed to be retained last year but since they were twins they either both had to stay or both had to move on. Whats the answer??? I do agree that children need to learn the material before being promoted. These are two things I just thought of.
     
  6. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    We cannot assume that retention is the solution for students who do not "learn the material." "WHY are students not learning the material?" is perhaps the more appropriate question. Is there a learning disability? Then retention does nothing for them. Is there a behavioral or emotional disability? Again, retention does not solve the problem but rather exacerbates it. Do children, with all we know through research, really just not learn? I think the reason you are finding so much research that points to the harms of retention is because it is an attempt to solve a problem with the wrong solution. Retention is not the answer. You also mentioned students that were "years" behind. If a student is more than two years behind grade level and their intelligence is at least average, that typically qualifies them for Special Education. Obviously, retaining a child that qualified for Special Education is ludicrous.

    Although social promotion does not help the many students who are "passed along," current research tells us that retention, particularly in the lower grades, does not boost subsequent achivement. Children who are retained end up in the same percentile rank as they would have been had they stayed with their age peers. Moreover, a child who is 11 and is one year behind is less behind than a child at age 5 who is one year behind. Knowing this, what good, really, does retention do that a year of growth would not resolve on its own? In all my years teaching at the elementary level and later as a counselor, I never encountered a child who just didn't learn and thus lacked the skills to move on to the next grade. I have encountered children with low IQs, traumatic home lives, parents who did not speak English and thus could not help with homework, and the list goes on (to include learning disabled and behavioral and emotionally disabled children). I have also had children who were definitely behind--but their lack of skills was nothing that reading or tutoring programs did not alleviate. You also mentioned students' poor reading skills--most schools have SRD or other reading programs to help such children. Although some schools do not, another year would do nothing for children such as this. They need to learn to decode phonetically...not to sit and listen to the same material they DID absorb.

    With NCLB, accountability falls on administrators, teachers, and students. If a student has not mastered the grade-level basic skills (and fails the exam, at least in Texas), they do not move on to the next grade. But this does not fare well for the school, and much less for the teacher. It is amazing--although much is wrong with NCLB, but this is not the time nor place to discuss that--what a little pressure does to raise scores and make schools and students successful.
     
  7. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Why punish one twin because the other wasn't as bright? That's ridiculous. Promote the one who passed and retain the one who didn't. In our system, years ago, we had twins, one of which was extremely bright and his teachers wanted to double promote him, but not his sister. After much thought, his parents went for it. Best thing they could have done! The sister perked up and started to work hard, and the boy flourished in the accelerated environment he was placed into.

    I do not think it should matter who you are, or where you are, or who you're related to, or your environment, or your special needs, or ANYTHING. If you pass, you're promoted, and if you fail, you're retained.

    When did the responsibility all fall on the adults? Why aren't the students themselves held responsible for doing their work and passing?
     
  8. pfnw

    pfnw Rookie

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    I am torn on retention. If by 6th grade they can't read, write, or complete basic mathematic skills they shouldn't be passed on to the 7th grade. However, my personal experience is that retention doesn't work. The kids retained do suffer from low self-esteem and become discipline problems which makes it difficult for them to catch up. Ridicule and embarrassment won't make them magically become star students. Out of six students that have been retained in the 6th grade at my school, only ONE changed his ways and became a 3.00 student. The rest eventually dropped out or were sent to juvenile detention. A better solution would be an alternative placement for the failing student since the regular education process isn't working for them. Also, most failing students have a much deeper problem than just being "lazy or slow". Their homelife has a huge impact on their learning.
     
  9. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Jan 3, 2006

    By the time they get to Middle School, retention does not work. However, if done in the lower grades, I think in the long run it is very beneficial to the students. All social promotion does is allow more holes to occur in a child's education, and to make the child more frustrated.
     
  10. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    AZDocStudent...In the very youngest grades, retention isn't only about kids who haven't learned the material. It's a lot about maturity and ability to focus/comprehend for an extended period of time. I agree, it's not that the kids CAN'T learn the material, but they may not be ready for the structure of the next level of school (a preK kid moving up to K, a Kinder kid moving to 1st). Sometimes, that extra year allows that child to become mature enough to handle the next, tougher, environment, and allows them to be successful. One of the criteria we use when discussing retention with parents is whether or not we think the child CAN learn the material. If we think there's a reason they're not getting it, like sped or home life, or whatever, they move on and get extra help the next year. If we just think that they weren't ready to grasp it at the time it was presented, we want to give them another chance.


    We also had twins last year, and here, in Pre-Kand K, it's a parent only decison to retain or not. Teachers can give an opinion, but the parents have the final say. The one twin was ready to move to K, the only wasn't. The parents were of the same opinion as the ones in hanvan's case - it's both or none. So, both were retained. The one is developmentally delayed, but is showing growth, the other is normal. SO....considering that they'll be turning 6 this month, and they are repeating PreK, by the time they're halfway through their K year, they'll be SEVEN. Both were boys, by the way.
    Kim
     
  11. Rosieo

    Rosieo Enthusiast

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    Wow, I really can't see having 7 year olds in kindergarten. I don't believe that retention works most of the time. I do think that in some situations it can work but I do not like seeing a child repeat a grade with the same teacher. I am not blaming the teacher at all, I just think that it would benefit the child to have a different teacher. A different teacher may have a different teaching style and may be able to reach the child the second time around.
     
  12. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    I understand the theory behind retention, kimrandy1. However, the research out there tell us that the theory is poorly supported at best. If one year of growth and thus "maturity" helps, then why do these retained children stay in the same percentile rank they would have been in had they moved up? And why do so many of these children, statistically, do so poorly throughout their academic experience? I am not advocating a position on doing away with retention. What I am attempting to point out is that there is more harm than good that comes from retention. I am not simply expressing my opinion on this--I am expressing what researchers out there have found and published in respected scholarly journals. We all have our own limited experiences--but that alone does not make our feelings "factual."
     
  13. Rosieo

    Rosieo Enthusiast

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    AZDocStdnt you have some valid points!
     
  14. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Wouldn't it be great if all schools had regular promotion for the students who earned it, and "other" classrooms for kids who didn't pass but who are too old and too large and too poorly-behaved to remain in a room with younger kids? That way, the good kids wouldn't have to put up with the stupid kids and their slowness and bad behavior, and the slow kids might get some help. And at the very least, they wouldn't be inflicted upon the nice kids who would really like to progress, not remain at a standstill or WORSE, review till the cows come home.

    Yes, I know I'm politically incorrect. I hate euphemisms; they weaken our language, and when a kid is slow or vicious, why not say so. The truth might hurt, but the truth might also light a fire under someone. As for the word "stupid," well, as the saying goes, 'stupid is as stupid does.'

    Start flinging poo at me now. I'm not backing down.
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    I know a middle-school principal - yes, with experience in elementary school - who asserts that ALL kids should progress through school at whatever rate they're up for, and if this means that there are 12 year olds in second grade and in tenth grade, so be it.
     
  16. Rosieo

    Rosieo Enthusiast

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    I would like to see him teach a second grade classroom with a 12 year old!
     
  17. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Her, actually, and knowing her, she'd pull it off - but of course it might not look entirely like the second grade classroom of today... She's also perfectly comfortable with the idea that a kid might be at second grade level for reading, fourth for science, third grade for history, etc.; an advantage of this, she said, is that it makes "retention" and "promotion" much less black and white and therefore might make it easier to get kids the sort of help they need when they need it. Whether I agree with all of this is another matter entirely, but it's interesting to think about.
     
  18. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    AZDocStudent, I am aware of the research. I just haven't lived that research in my life and in my classroom. I can only speak from the experience of the kids I've worked with in my classroom. It's not an emotionally charged topic for me...I'm actually more of the opinion that kids should stay with their age group...red-shirting is a huge issue with the K/PK crowd. However, I still hold that there are cases in which retention can and does work. In an ideal world, teachers would be ready to meet children where they are...academically AND socially....and deal with all of the differences, reaching each child. In the real world, we all know that doesn't happen often. In our K curriculum, we have a 90-minute seated bock of LA. All in a whole group format. Is this inappropriate? Yes, it is. But it's how it is. And there are a bunch of boys born in the Fall (we are just starting to roll back our birthday cutoff) that aren't capable of sitting for that long and actuallypaying attention and retaining knowledge. So, they aren't going to learn much of the content, they're going to be constantly corrected for wiggling and causing distractions (and acting like a normal almost-5-year-old), and they're not going to be successful.

    But, before you think I want to retain my whole class...I've been teaching for 13 years now, each year having 2 classes of 20 kids. I've recommended retention exactly twice. One parent took the advice, one didn't.

    My question to you, since you seem more up to date on the research than me, is this...I've never understood it, but maybe you do. How can they tell what percentile a child would have been had he/she not been retained? We do know what the child achieves, and what percentile they are actually measuring, but how do we know what they would have reached if they hadn't been retained? Or the opposite...how do we know what percentile a child who has not been retained would have reached had he/she been retained??
    Kim

    My
     
  19. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    Hi Kim,
    For percentiles, which are norm-referenced, it is expected that an "average" student will be at the 50th percentile year after year, theoretically, with "normal growth"--give or take the standard error of measurement for said group. For a retained student, who is typically at least two standard deviations below the mean, it is assumed that they will improve in their percentile rank during the second year of the same grade--hence, we have proponents of retention. To illustrate, let us say a retainee was in the 4th percentile of his or her class. We would expect that retaining said student would result in his or her movement along the percentile rank--after all, that is "why" they were retained for all intents and purposes. Researchers found that this was not so--they stayed in the percentile rank they had been in to begin with...they didn't "improve" even though that was the very reason they had been held back (i.e., even after being retained, they performed two standard deviations or more below the mean). Another way to look at this is through a longitudinal study. It is expected that retention will allow a student to move closer to the mean, or 50th percentile. Thereafter, a student will show "normal" growth by staying at their percentile rank when normatively compared to their grade level peers. In research, however, retained students stay in the same percentile rank they were in when they were retained. They did NOT improve, which is counterintuitive as far as the purpose for retaining a student. So when researchers assert that a student who is retained does not improve in their percentile rank "had they NOT been retained," they are utilizing the assumption of "normal growth" which is central to most educational and learning theories.
     
  20. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    One more thing...you're right about five year old boys--I have two myself. A long LA block like that is enough to drive even the older kids nuts. But no, I never guessed you'd retain them all. In thirteen years with only one retention, you are actually a prime example of what I picture in a Pre-K or K class. What charges me emotionally about this topic--and I admit it fully--is how many teachers do NOT view their students contextually (notice the upsurge of ADHD in the past years?) and/or fail to see that at times they are to blame. (Yes. There ARE bad teachers out there.)
     
  21. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    TeacherGroupie, I think that would be wonderful; just like the old days, when students were taught according to ability and their age meant little or nothing. And why would it be weird to have a 12-year-old in second grade? Back in the day, there were lots of them. People sent their kids to school to be taught, and to learn, not to be coddled and have their self-esteem artificially enhanced. I'm all for it. I absolutely loathe rewards for the undeserving. Enroll your kids in school, and let them pass or fail according to their own hard work and ability, or not. I think a classroom of kids of all ages would be very helpful indeed! As long as good behavior was required. In other words, no bad kids allowed. Heaven. At the college level, I have students from ages 16-92, all in the same classes, and it's good for them all. What's the big deal with the age separation? As long as everyone behaves as decent people always behave, it would be great. And anyone who chooses not to behave decently should be thrown out anyway.
     
  22. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    Ah, but measuring their percentiles that way takes a lot under assumption. We just cannot know what the other option would have produced. This is what a lot of parents who are going through this decision agonize over...the "what if" component.

    And, there is also a huge area that's really unmeasurable. Relationships with peers and self esteem. Is it better or worse for retention. I don't think anyone can tell for sure.

    I'm really not pro-retention. The "studies" and "research" just annoy me for some reason...claiming to know what would have happened had that child not have been retained. It's one case where I think scientists, and educational professionals not in the classroom, do lose sight of what happens in the actual classrooms, and lose sight of the individual child and what's best for EACH one. EACH one has different needs. I'm always afraid that a parent of a child who really could benefit from retention will read these sort of things on the internet and decide against it...and the reverse as well....parents who read how all boys born after June must be retained, so they just do it. And both of these kinds of parents/teachers lose sight of the individual child and his/her needs.

    Slightly off-topic, I read and post on another group for kindergarteners' parents on babycenter, and I was absolutely SHOCKED at how many moms are red-shirting their boys. Some who were born as early as March are being held back, just because it is the "best thing." And then the same moms are complaining when the kids get to kindergarten that they just aren't being challenged, that they're so far ahead. Well, they're almost seven, for goodness sakes!

    Kim
     
  23. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    Kim,

    That IS shocking and sad (the Babycenter thing). As for the research being annoying--it can be, certainly. Especially if it is misused, as is often the case. Take the aforementioned red-shirting incident(s)--this probably stemmed from poorly constructed or misrepresented research. What a shame.

    I was in the classroom as a bilingual elementary teacher for many years prior to becoming a counselor, and saw first-hand in both positions many students who were perhaps red-shirted or maybe retained after a carefully thought out consideration...either way, I didn't ever see anything beneficial come from the retention itself. The students who were impacted in a positive way succeeded because of good teachers, gauged by their success occurring "miraculously" during the time they were in excellent teachers' classrooms. I think what research cannot do for educators, though proponents may state so, is dictate what should ALWAYS be done--that is just not what it is indended to do. What it can do is give us findings from carefully instrumented measures of things we, or administrators, may tend to overlook or discard as an option.

    Although it may seem implausible, there are good measures of self-concept. It may seem like a construct that is immeasureable, but carefully constructed measurements that are validated via factor analysis CAN give us an idea as to what retention does to students' self-concept. I am biased on this topic, though--I am an Educational Psychology doctoral student, and this is what I do for a living. I understand it because I am immersed in it, though you absolutely raise valid questions and concerns. Just as we can measure a student's knowledge in math or a teacher's aptitude (remember the SAT, ACT, or even GRE?) we can measure student self-concept. The results of these measurement tools can help us carefully consider the consequences of our actions rather than haphazardly risking a child's future because we stick to what makes sense to us rather than what makes sense for the child based on objectively gathered information.
     
  24. AZDocStdnt

    AZDocStdnt Rookie

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    As for the percentiles, it is actually a simple mathematical equation. Percentile ranks are used in just about every examination: teacher certification, ACT, SAT, and high stakes tests (the NCLB state assessments), to name a few, that tell us how one student compares with others. A percentile rank does not leave much to question, which is exactly what makes it such a desirable piece of data. We know exactly where a student is (give or take the standard error or measurement) compared to his or her peers. If we retain a student, and they don't move up their PR...they did not gain anything. It isn't even really something that is left up to question "what if"--it is a normal expectation that a student grows one year, each year. Anyone assessing a student would raise concerns over a student who falls one standard deviation or more in one year...something is definitely wrong. So it isn't really something incomprehensible. It tells us how does Sally compare with her peers? That's it.
     
  25. JenPooh

    JenPooh Virtuoso

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    Jan 4, 2006

    AMEN!!!
     
  26. gigi

    gigi Groupie

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    I had my son retained in second grade. I had to bring it up to the teacher, whom I loved and who also taught my two daughters. I had to FIGHT for it, but in the end I won. (not with the teacher, with the principal). He stayed with the same teacher and had a wonderful second year and graduated from high school with honors, and is now in college. My son had a rough first grade, blonde curly hair, blue eyed and due to a lazy eye he wore a patch and had 2 operations. His first grade teacher felt sorry for him and never made him do anything. If he wanted to play, he played. While I loved her compassion for my son, she didn't do him any favors. It was the best decision and yet one of the hardest, but it all worked out.
     
  27. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I was one of those who used to think that if a child wasn't ready to move on then he/she shouldn't. But I've researched it & like AZDOC says it really isn't an effective way. I'm sure that we can all point to a child where retention was effective. I have 3 boys who have been retained. 1 in kindergarten, another in 2nd & the last one is repreating 3rd grade. The only one who is being successful is the child who was retained in kindergarten. The one who was retained in 2nd grade still is not at grade level, but he doesn't get any support at home.

    I think we need to really look at how we teach. We need to meet each child where they are & not expect them to be at the same place at the same time!

    I just wish I had more time in the day to meet all of the needs that I have in my classroom!
     
  28. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    In Georgia students have to pass a standardized test in 4th grade in order to move on to the 5th grade and they also have to pass a standardized test in 5th grade before they could go to middle school. They do have a chance to go to summer school and redo this test but we have parents who choose not to send their child to summer school. Right now we have a couple of students who will be turning 13 years old in 5th grade right now (they repeated 4th grade and are now repeating 5th grade because they failed these tests). To me this is hideous (I just found this out yesterday and I had to pick my jaw up from off of the floor) and I think it is a recipe for drop outs. Who wants to be 16 years old in the 9th grade? Other than not having to compete with other students for a parking spot in the middle school parking lot, what else do they have that will encourage them to stay in school?
     
  29. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Because of my birthdate if I had stayed back I would have been 16 in 9th grade also.
    But your right 13 yrs old seems a little old to be in 5th grade, by the time the student graduates if he graduates he will be 20 yrs old! Besides the fact if I was a parent I would not want a 13 yr old boy around my 10 or 11 yr old daughter. The hormones!
    I am taking it grade 6 to 9 are in a middle school? I would not want my sixth grade daughter 11 to 12 around a 17 yr old boy.
    That is insane.
     
  30. cmesq

    cmesq New Member

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    Grade Retention Non-Academic Reasons

    What about grade retention for students who are performing adequately academically, although not outstandingly, but are young, immature, etc? All of the studies seem to be about retention for academic issues. And the studies cite bad outcomes due to issues that seem, at least partially, related to the retained child being over-age for the grade. Does anyone know of studies looking at these type of issues?
     
  31. AZDocStdnt

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    Jan 25, 2006

    There is lots of research out there. The NASP position paper sites references on the topic regarding immaturity, young age, etc., and the bottom line consensus seems to be that any gains are temporary and the long-term effects are detrimental. So, it seems regardless of academics or "immaturity"--retention doesn't always seem to be the answer. Of course there will be exceptions, but I doubt any parent would say they would be willing to retain their child with the less than likely chance that it will be a "good" thing.
     
  32. boogaboo214

    boogaboo214 Companion

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    Jan 26, 2006

    retention is sometimeds a bad thing and sometimes a good thing i have seen both cases in my own family. in elementary school i generaly believe it is a good thing my cousin was passed along all the way to 8th grade where she dropped out and she is 20 and reads and writes at a 1st grade level. my brother was held back in 7th and that just demotivated him to try harder.he is now 16 and will be 17 in two months and is only staying in school due to our harsh truency laws and is going to get his ged when he can take the test at age 17. so i really think it goes case by case in some students it will be motivational to try harder but to others it erases all hope.
     

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