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

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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

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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

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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.
     
  22. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    And then these students get to high school were it does matter if they fail a class.
     
  23. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    (Most of) my school believes that instead of retaining you need to refer them to get testing done because they could qualify for resource or special ed.
    However, I have a student whose BEHAVIOR is so outrageous that I can't tell if he needs help or what. He REFUSES to do any work and throughout this whole year has only done 1% of the work asked of him. When I say he doesn't do any work that could be just sitting there not even trying to "doing it" but not paying attention, moving on when he shouldn't, making patterns for his answers "just because". I flat out want to retain him.
     
  24. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Last year, I tutored a 1st grader who had been retained for 1st grade. Everything basic that we reviewed or I taught, he would make short-term progress, meaning between Tues and Thur he would "forget" and I would basically reteach EVERYTHING all over again. I used hands-on games, drills, traditional flash cards, visual aides and he would just not remember the next session.

    His mom pulled him out of NC schools and moved him to SC with his grandma. This year she moved him back to our school and he was on my roster. This child, who I was beginning to think was learning disabled in some way, was a normal average 2nd grader. He is able to retain this year and his phonics issues are non-existent. His fluency is steadily improving (he's already reading at an end-of-year 2nd grade rate. I have NO idea why but I think that extra year in 1st helped him.

    I agree that it was beneficial for him to repeat 1st grade because if he had been in my 2nd grade last year, he would not have received as much time with "the basics" (phonics, phonemic awareness, etc). Now he quickly picks up sounding out words based on the more advanced spelling patterns that we learn in 2nd grade (digraphs, consonant blends, etc) whereas last year he was struggling with CVC words.

    Since 2nd grade doesn't spend that much time on CVC words, him being in 2nd for 2 years in a row wouldn't be helpful to him. We only spend a short time at the beginning of the year reviewing that K-1 material. Then we focus more heavily on grammar and comprehension.
     
  25. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I always hesitate to adopt the attitude of "Well, when you're a [insert higher grade level] grader you won't be able to get away with this" or "Well, when you're in [insert higher grade level] grade you'll have to do this so get used to it now" because I don't think children should always be forced to live in the future, but instead be who they are at any given moment. It doesn't always have to be about preparing for them for what they'll face next year or the next when there are age-appropriate concepts and skills to be dealt with in the present. Obviously guiding students through transitional periods is important—I just think it's done to an extreme at times. BUT, this said, I worry about your point as well. I've heard from students personally who were shocked to discover you must pass classes in high school to earn credit hours. It's a major surprise to them and it hits many like a brick wall. Are we setting these low-achieving students up for failure by accepting their complete lack of effort in middle school? Then we just shake our heads when they drop out and say, "Called that one four years ago!" :unsure:
     
  26. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    A student retained can suffer more emotionaly than academicaly because of retentions being so isolated. If more students were retained, then, it wouldn't be much of a big deal. However, when there is only one of 2, it can be devastating for a student. I can see this student shutting down and losing any confidence left.

    Could it be possible that one day classrooms can be grouped based on readiness instead of age? If this becomes the norm then students won't feel bad around spending one more semester or year repeating subjects. Some students also struggle more in one subject and yet would have to repeat an entire year just for one subject.

    If we can foster a schoolwide environment of collaborative learning vs. comparing and competing students wouldn't have much negative effects of repeating content.
     

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