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My son is far behind in school both academically and developmentally. Should he stay back a grade?

Expert answer

Your question about retention at grade level is a challenging one. Most of the research done on the subject points to damaging social effects as well as a lack of long term academic improvement for most children. That said, given the way most schools are currently structured, moving students on to higher grades who are lacking skills and knowledge is also unlikely to ensure academic success. The following article may help you understand the challenges involved in that decision process and proposed strategies to overcome the issue.

If your school is one in which 1) at-risk students are given intensified learning experiences; 2) differentiated instruction is provided; 3) teachers are continually improving their skills; 4) lessons are geared to ongoing performance assessments; and 5) very young students receive the help they need early and often – you can safely support promotion for your child. If you are not convinced that your child will get the support he needs to succeed in the next grade, you may want to strongly support his retention. In addition to academic factors, it is important to weigh the child’s age, size, emotional maturity and physical development when considering retention. Also examine the program that will be offered – it should be a new, challenging experience not a repeat of the same lessons and texts.

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