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Grade Retention UPDATED

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

My oldest dude is in 1st grade and struggling.  His grades have been getting worse as the year has gone on.  We have a chicken/egg situation: I don't know if he struggles b/c he hates school (he wants to stay home and play all day, and nap, he says) or if he hates school b/c he struggles.

 

His teacher says he can't focus, she doesn't think he's ready for some of the math concepts, and he needs OT (which I'm working on getting through our insurance as the school won't help him unless he's in the SPED program) because he can't hold a pencil correctly.  I thought some of his lack of attention could've been attributed to lack of sleep (he had horrible sleep apnea), but we've since had his tonsils and adenoids out and that has resolved while the attention issue has not.

 

I have another post in this forum and am working on the things from there (like getting him an educational evaluation), but in the mean time I got a letter from the school today saying that unless he improves significantly between now and the end of school, they'll want to retain him.

 

I need some anecedotal stuff on grade retention to help me make a decision.  We can have him retained and keep him in his current school (1st and 2nd grades), but I worry about the social implications of all his buddies moving on.  We can also take him to another, smaller school in our county that would be a bit of a drive, but he has friends a grade level down there.  It'd be like a fresh start, maybe.

 

I'm really torn.


Edited by liberal_chick - 5/10/12 at 9:48am
post #2 of 28

Is he old for grade, or young for grade? (I see his birthdate but jurisdictions vary in their cutoff dates; where I live he'd be among the oldest in 1st grade, but I think our cutoff is pretty late.) Is you area big on red-shirting or would he be by far the oldest in his class if retained? Is he large for his age, average, or small? Does he get along better with kids slightly older or slightly younger than him? How is his social and emotional maturity? Ahead of the curve, on it, or behind?

 

From the little you've written here, I would retain him, and move him to the other school if you can manage the transportation. Not because I think the grade-retention is the answer to his academic struggles, but because he clearly has a lot of resistance and negativity associated with his current school, and because the extra year would allow you extra time to get his learning needs assessed and fully addressed. 

 

Good luck!
 

Miranda

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

He is young for grade.  He will turn seven 2 days before the end of this school year; most of his classmates are already 7.  He was born prematurely and, had he been born on time, he probably wouldn't have made the kindergarten cut off last year.

 

He does well socially with the kids in his class, but his best buddies are younger (one is currently in Kindy, one will be in Kindy next year).  Physically he's very average.  Tall and skinny. :D  I'd say his social maturity is right on, but his emotional maturity is a bit behind.

post #4 of 28

Do you need to decide now?  Can you see what happens over the summer?  Kids can develop so much between May and August, along with summer time 'fun' aka art classes, drawing, possible OT, tutoring and such he could be caught up to 2nd grade.  Making a decision now seems a bit silly.  

 

post #5 of 28

I would consult with your pediatrician, and look at the add/adhd possibility.  The tiredness and taking a nap may very well be the emotional and physical energy it takes for him to try and "maintain" himself in school.  One of my kiddos was exhausted and wanted to sleep during the school day--the effort required to concentrate was overwhelming, and help was needed.

 

Now, I have an older for grade (versus younger, but not red shirted), and I am happy with it.  BUT, the attentional issues still needed to be dealt with, regardless of grade placement.  1st and 2nd were tough, 3rd is better.  I would refuse to commit to a plan until you have a full eval and plan from the school.  There's little positive in the research about grade retention, but sometimes it can work for very specific needs.  You just don't seem like you have enough info, or an intervention plan with a track record, unless I'm missing something?

post #6 of 28


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

He is young for grade.  He will turn seven 2 days before the end of this school year; most of his classmates are already 7.  He was born prematurely and, had he been born on time, he probably wouldn't have made the kindergarten cut off last year.

 

 

although I'm not usually a fan of retention, he sounds like a good candidate for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

I would consult with your pediatrician, and look at the add/adhd possibility.  The tiredness and taking a nap may very well be the emotional and physical energy it takes for him to try and "maintain" himself in school.  One of my kiddos was exhausted and wanted to sleep during the school day--the effort required to concentrate was overwhelming, and help was needed.

 


I agree. I think your little guy is having some issues that are not related to being younger, and I think it would be best to continue to pursue those even with a grade retention.

 

One of my kids has special needs. It is NOT recommended to hold back SN students because it doesn't fix the problem. It just makes them older and bigger. If your son were not right on the line AND a premie, I wouldn't see retention as part of the answer.  But since he is so close to the cutoff, retention could be PART of the solution. Some kids are just better off being on the older end of their class.

 

Since the school is sitting on a request for an eval AND recommending a grade retention, if you wanted to fight the retention, you would have grounds. It is not acceptable for schools to fail to figure out what is going on with a kid, such as a learning disability, and then just retain them instead. Your son may need special instruction, not just a repeat.  None the less, I'm not sure fighting is what is best for him.

 

I'm sorry you are going through this. My special needs child is now in highschool, and she would not have passed elementary school without accommodations for writing, extra help with math etc. It was heartbreaking for me to see her struggle. She's doing great now and is planning on college, but she needed extra help and support to get here. Her birthday falls right after the cuttoff, so she is naturally one of the older kids in her grade, which worked out well for her.

 

Peace.

 

 

post #7 of 28

In general, retention works less for "immature" kids and more for kids who have specific issues that can be addressed and progress made on them during the repeated year. Basically, it's not enough to just do the year over. The child will do better that year because they've already been exposed to all the work. However, if the individual's issues aren't addressed, the next year when they ARE faced with new material, they'll be right back where they started.

 

Based on your sig, he turns 7 next month so a pretty solid age for his current grade but not so old that a retention would be extra awkward. It seems like you've already identified some problems and are working towards services. I would require the school test him for learning disabilities before retaining him. I don't know how it works in your state but in ours, if a parent formally requests testing in writing for learning disabilities, they have to comply. I can't imagine they would fight you on it in this situation.

 

Personally, I'd just want every bit of info I could get before making that choice. As to moving schools, it's a mixed bag either way.... yes, it could be better socially for him but then you are dealing with brand new staff who have no history with him. If you decide to move him, really talk to the new school about what they can offer.

post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

In general, retention works less for "immature" kids and more for kids who have specific issues that can be addressed and progress made on them during the repeated year.


In general I agree, but this is a kid who based on when the sperm hit the egg, is NOT old enough to be in the grade he is in. He isn't "immature", he's "young".

 

I

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

 

His teacher says he can't focus, she doesn't think he's ready for some of the math concepts, and he needs OT (which I'm working on getting through our insurance as the school won't help him unless he's in the SPED program) because he can't hold a pencil correctly.  I thought some of his lack of attention could've been attributed to lack of sleep (he had horrible sleep apnea), but we've since had his tonsils and adenoids out and that has resolved while the attention issue has not.

 

I have another post in this forum and am working on the things from there (like getting him an educational evaluation), but in the mean time I got a letter from the school today saying that unless he improves significantly between now and the end of school, they'll want to retain him.

First, the information they've given you on OT vs SPED is backwards.  If he needs OT, then that puts him into the special ed program.  That doesn't mean that he's in a separate class, just that he's either pulled out some each week or that someone visits him in the classroom.

 

What's the status of the educational evaluation?  Have you delineated every problem you see in his performance and functioning?  I'm a little weirded out by the fact that the school seems to be making pronouncements about next year if an educational evaluation has been requested and not yet completed.  Being in that stage should mean to everyone involved that no one yet has enough information as to why he's not succeeding.

 

The lack of focus might be because of a focus issue, or it could be that the level of instruction is not appropriate to him. You need to sort that out.  You also need an answer as to why he's not ready for some of the 2nd grade math concepts.  Is that because he hasn't been able to pay attention this year, or is it because cognitively he's unable to grasp these concepts?  If it's the latter, then you need to know if it's an issue of maturity -- he'll get it next year -- or an issue of a processing deficit or something like dyscalcula (the math form of dyslexia).  In one case, giving him an extra year will help.  In the other case, he's going to need intervention over and above the type of instruction he gets in the classroom.
 

It also seems as though you might consider a separate medical exam.  The issue of being so tired could just be from the strain of trying to function in a classroom for which he's not yet ready, or it could be that there's an underlying medical issue.  Have you discussed ADHD with the doctor?  I know it's found at shockingly high rates among early preemies, but I'm not sure how early early is in that.  (A friend quoted me 95% for her son's gestational age). 

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 

No, we don't have to make any decisions now.  My OP was on the day the letter came home, so it was just on my mind.

 

The letter I sent to the school requesting the evaluation listed most, if not all, of the obstacles I see.  The evaluation is pending.

 

RE: the OT/SPED program, I was told by his teacher: "I talked to OT several times, and they say they're too backed up to see him.  They are only seeing kids who are in their SPED classes full time."  He gets speech therapy through the school and has an IEP for that already.  I made sure that I CC'd the letter to the principal to the SPED teacher.

post #11 of 28

Services are determined based on a need for services, not an availability of services.  If he needs OT, it should be part of the IEP and he should get OT. 

 

Just make sure you're not confused on that point, even if the teacher remains so.

post #12 of 28

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post


RE: the OT/SPED program, I was told by his teacher: "I talked to OT several times, and they say they're too backed up to see him.  They are only seeing kids who are in their SPED classes full time."  He gets speech therapy through the school and has an IEP for that already.  I made sure that I CC'd the letter to the principal to the SPED teacher.

 

 

I recommend double posting this on the special needs board. There are some moms there who seriously kick butt on advocating for their kids.

 

 

 

 

post #13 of 28

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

No, we don't have to make any decisions now.  My OP was on the day the letter came home, so it was just on my mind.

 

The letter I sent to the school requesting the evaluation listed most, if not all, of the obstacles I see.  The evaluation is pending.

 

RE: the OT/SPED program, I was told by his teacher: "I talked to OT several times, and they say they're too backed up to see him.  They are only seeing kids who are in their SPED classes full time."  He gets speech therapy through the school and has an IEP for that already.  I made sure that I CC'd the letter to the principal to the SPED teacher.

 

The bolded is just wrong.  If a student needs OT then they get OT, its not based on current occupancy availability.  The teacher does not talk to OT for the final answer, you need to request an evaluation.  

I hope you get some answers.

post #14 of 28

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post
RE: the OT/SPED program, I was told by his teacher: "I talked to OT several times, and they say they're too backed up to see him.  They are only seeing kids who are in their SPED classes full time."  He gets speech therapy through the school and has an IEP for that already.  I made sure that I CC'd the letter to the principal to the SPED teacher.

 

lol.gif That's so not how the law works irked.gif.

 

I recommended reading "Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy"; the information from the book can be found on their site as well (Table of Contents). Reading "Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition," would be a good idea as well--it's a nice big (but not that thick) book. It really pays to know federal law and your state law (see your state dept of ed site). Just this week the otherwise nice and helpful resource teacher at ds' school told me (when I requested it) that "unfortunately" I could not see ds' evaluation before it was presented at the IEP meeting, then yesterday said that must have been someone's personal policy because the evaluator said she would e-mail it to me. Federal regulations say that evaluations are school records that need to be provided to the parents upon request, and my state law says that the school will provide parents with the written evaluation before the IEP meeting.

 

Under IDEA/IEP, if your child has a disability that adversely affects educational performance, your child is entitled to an education that is designed to meet the child's unique needs and from which your child receives educational benefit.  Retention is not legally a solution for the school's failure to act. If you've specifically given consent for the evaluation there is a deadline for the school. In some states the parent has to consent to retention and in others the principle makes the final call, but if there are un/misaddressed disabilities that's a whole 'nother ballgame.

 

Here's some reading for you smile.gif:

 

"wright's law retention"

https://www.google.com/search?q=wright%27s+law+retention&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

 

Retention & FAPE - What Does the Research Say? Wrightslaw

post #15 of 28

I wouldn't retain your child.   If the school is pushing for you to retain your child, they can't by law retain your child if they have a IEP.  My daughter has a IEP and has struggled since 1st grade, she will be entering 4th grade. We will be doing the 2wks of summer school offered at her school for reading/math to help get her closer to grade level standards.

 

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 

UPDATE:

 

I sent a letter to the school requesting that they evaluate him for special ed. We set up a meeting. He already has an IEP due to his speech therapy, so I met with the speech teacher, his classroom teacher, the classroom aide, and the VP.

What the school said: Don't evaluate him now, because he may not qualify and then we can't evaluate him again for 3 years and he may really have a hard 3 years. We think he needs to repeat first grade. We think he probably has ADD or ADHD. We'll draw up a plan to get him into some school based mental health program (to try to help with his hatred of school). He may need OT but we're backed up and cannot see him. We encourage you to take him to the pediatrician.

I thought everything they said made sense.

What the pediatrician said: I've worked in Chicago and New York and I've NEVER seen a school as hesitant to test children as this one. You DO NOT hold him back; you send him to 2nd grade and have the school provide him with the help he needs to succeed. You'll probably have to fight them, but he needs to be evaluated. Due to a lack of oxygen at birth he probably does have LD and ADD (not ADHD), but they are mild. He does need OT and we'll get that set up. I cannot believe they want to hold him back for poor grades on 1/4 quarters.

I thought everything she said made sense.



I'm working to schedule another meeting with the SPED team at the school, but this is all just ridiculous. Spencer's teacher is concerned about his reading comprehension more than anything else, but the kid told me the entire plot and synopsis of a book his art teacher read to him ONCE while we were on the way to the beach (meaning it'd been 2 days since he heard it). When I told him that his teacher thought he didn't understand the books at school, he said, "Mommy, I just hate to read so I don't really read the story or the questions. I just fill in the bubbles."

I don't know what to do with him at this point. I thought holding him back was the right thing, but now I'm not so sure.

post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

No, we don't have to make any decisions now.  My OP was on the day the letter came home, so it was just on my mind.

 

The letter I sent to the school requesting the evaluation listed most, if not all, of the obstacles I see.  The evaluation is pending.

 

RE: the OT/SPED program, I was told by his teacher: "I talked to OT several times, and they say they're too backed up to see him.  They are only seeing kids who are in their SPED classes full time."  He gets speech therapy through the school and has an IEP for that already.  I made sure that I CC'd the letter to the principal to the SPED teacher.

The school is in clear violation of IDEA.  Under IDEA a child must be maintained in the least restrictive setting.  So, if he qualifies for OT through the school district, they are REQUIRED regardless of being in a Special Ed Classroom or a Regular Classroom to provide that OT to the child.  Your child already has an IEP, all you need at this time to do is request that he be evaluated for OT, and I believe as long as he has any skills that are at least 1 deviation below what they should be, he is entitled to OT.  You do not need to redo the entire IEP process or MFE, just the OT part.

By chance, if you have any of the old MFE results showing that they believe he needs OT, but will not put it on his IEP because of being in a Traditional/Regular Classroom, I would contact someone in your States Dept. of Education and find out how you go about getting an advocate.  I would also consider consulting an attorney in you area (some states have special Legal Rights Groups that do this type of work all the time for free or cheap) that specializes in Education Law, particularly Special Education Law.  Try to get it in writing that they are denying him the OT he needs because he is in a Traditional Classroom v Special Education Classroom.

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

UPDATE:

 

I sent a letter to the school requesting that they evaluate him for special ed. We set up a meeting. He already has an IEP due to his speech therapy, so I met with the speech teacher, his classroom teacher, the classroom aide, and the VP.

What the school said: Don't evaluate him now, because he may not qualify and then we can't evaluate him again for 3 years and he may really have a hard 3 years. We think he needs to repeat first grade. We think he probably has ADD or ADHD. We'll draw up a plan to get him into some school based mental health program (to try to help with his hatred of school). He may need OT but we're backed up and cannot see him. We encourage you to take him to the pediatrician.

I don't know what to do with him at this point. I thought holding him back was the right thing, but now I'm not so sure.

 

What your school district is telling you is totally incorrect.  They are required to evaluate the child the minute a parent puts in a written request (well the test does not have to be that minute, but the requirement to do so starts running that minute), and they have so many days to do it in.  They are also wrong about not being able to evaluate him for another 3 years, if he does not initially qualify...again any time you put in the request, they are REQUIRED to do it.  The 3 year rule comes in that they are required to re-evaluate every child who is on an IEP (with an MFE) every 3 years to determine if they are still eligible or they need additional services.

Second, they ARE NOT qualified to make a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD, so it does not matter what they "think" he may have.  Your pediatrician has already sent you for an eval through a medical professional, he sees a need....when you get the medical OT test results, it will help you a long way...Mental Health programs will not help with the ADD/ADHD either, he should be given specific things under en IEP for those, including extra time for work and tests.

 

Again, just because they are backed up, does not excuse them from failing to evaluate him or provide him services.  If they are backed up, they must hire more people who are qualified to provide services for him.

 

Again, I would tell the school you want him evaluated and you do not agree with the retention.  Find yourself a private party to counsel him to deal with why he does not want to go to school...do not let them hold him back a year, until he is tested.  If needed start threatening to contact a lawyer to represent your child's needs in these proceedings and that you will fight this through a Civil Suit in Court.  Often times they will relent if the parent threatens court, because it will in the end cost them significantly more.

 

Get yourself an advocate for this process.

post #19 of 28

khaoskat is right.

 

This is a violation of IDEA.

 

Your school has lied to you.  The information that they gave you is incorrect and illegal.

 

Get an advocate.  Mine costs $72/hour.  Getting DD to an IEP has cost me just under 5 hours of her time so far.  The IEP meeting will be in two weeks.  I expect to be billed for about 3 more hours total.  That's a BARGAIN compared to any other outcome -- extra tutoring or a private school, plus DD's free time.  In your case, it would save your child an entire year in school, giving him an extra year of income as an adult.  Think of it as a very good investment.

 

What happened at your meeting with the school wouldn't happen with an advocate there because that person could identify the violations and call a spade a spade.  Generally, the meetings go much more smoothly with an advocate present because the school knows better than to pull that kind of crap.

 

Your doctor is right on all counts.

 

Go up the chain of command in the state board of ed.

 

Contact these folks:  http://www.arkdisabilityrights.org/  (I found them through following a link in your state's BOE webpage under "disputes")

post #20 of 28

The school is breaking THE LAW in so many ways I don't think they could possibly be doing it out of ignorance.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by liberal_chick View Post

UPDATE:

 

I sent a letter to the school requesting that they evaluate him for special ed. We set up a meeting. He already has an IEP due to his speech therapy, so I met with the speech teacher, his classroom teacher, the classroom aide, and the VP.

What the school said: Don't evaluate him now, because he may not qualify and then we can't evaluate him again for 3 years and he may really have a hard 3 years. We think he needs to repeat first grade. We think he probably has ADD or ADHD. We'll draw up a plan to get him into some school based mental health program (to try to help with his hatred of school). He may need OT but we're backed up and cannot see him. We encourage you to take him to the pediatrician.

 

They LIED.

 

Get these books, read them and don't step into a meeting without the law book:

 

"Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy"; the information from the book can be found on their site as well (Table of Contents)

 

"Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition"

 

I'd also follow the pp's advice about the advocate and contacting your department of education.

 

 

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): What? How? Why? Who Pays? Parent attorney Wayne Steedman describes IEEs, the value of IEEs for parents and school personnel, what the law requires, and who is financially responsible.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs): Must Parents Chose an Evaluator from School's Approved List? In 2004, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) published a Policy Letter about IEEs and parent choice; clarified that parents have a right to choose their independent evaluator.

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