Repeating a grade, or grade retention, is rarely a good choice for a child who struggles academically, behaviorally, or socially. Repeating a grade often does little to advance a student’s skill level in any area. In fact, according to The National Association of School Psychologists, studies show that grade retention can negatively affect achievement, social-emotional adjustments, and attitudes toward school. Studies also indicate that students who have repeated a grade are at a higher risk of dropping out of school. Other studies show that during the repeated year a student may fall even further behind. The exception to these concerns is if a student repeats kindergarten, when immaturity may be a concern. Otherwise, experts suggest that parents carefully consider a teacher’s recommendation that their child be held back.
Some questions to consider:
- What are the teacher’s concerns about your child being promoted?
- Where does the teacher see a deficit in your child’s ability to perform like his/her peers of the same age?
- What will change if the child repeats a grade? Will the school simply keep him/her back to sit through the same material a second time, or will they provide interventions to address the weaknesses that your child is experiencing?
- As a parent, how can you work with teachers to help your child deal with the emotional impact of having to repeat a grade while his/her friends move ahead?
- Do the negative consequences outweigh the positive?
Remember, children diagnosed with ADD/ADHD have a 50-80% chance of having a co-existing condition, such as a learning disability. No parent should ever get to the end of a school year, and discover that their child is failing. Anytime a student struggles academically, socially, or behaviorally, his/her teachers should proactively contact the parents to discuss concerns and options available to help the child succeed.
Parents also need to stay involved; when you see your child struggling in school, overwhelmed by homework, having trouble making friends, or often in trouble, make an appointment with his/her teachers to discuss your concerns. Together, develop a plan to address problem areas. If the interventions do not help, the school’s psychologist should be consulted. A parent or teacher may make this request. The psychologist should discuss evaluating your child to help determine the specific area(s) of weakness, so that a more specific plan may be developed. These “specific plans” are an I.E.P. (Individual Education Program) or a 504 Plan (Rehabilitation Act).