With certain states jumping on the retention bandwagon, even though we know retention doesn’t work, where do students with dyslexia fit? Students with reading difficulties should not have to flunk third grade to get the help they deserve.
Many children with reading difficulties, who do not have IEPs, are being held back. In fact, probably most students who fail the third grade, who wind up with low test scores, have reading disabilities of some kind. Children don’t intentionally flunk tests.
Many know that retention is so scary for children it rates up there with the fear of going blind and losing a parent! If the public school system is broken when it comes to serving these kids, why aren’t they fixing the system instead of worsening it?
Why are the students punished when the adults fail?
If third graders are not doing well on the tests school officials should look at the following:
- Is the test appropriate? Are students tested so much they don’t have time to learn?
- Look at the program the student has been in (or lack of programming) to see what’s wrong with it.
- Come up with something better to help students. This should include college programs to prepare teachers.
- Reassess the assessment.
Probably all of the above need work.
Politicians and those from business, and other outsiders who know little about children and how they learn, have taken control of public schools, including the classroom, for the last thirty years. Isn’t it time they be held accountable for student failure? Why should they be allowed to continually “trick” the American people with policies that fail?
They should be providing students with the kind of school guidelines that give them the skills to enter a dynamic workforce where they will thrive and be able to lead a decent life.
Don’t officials understand that the students with reading and math difficulties need a different way of learning? They require differentiation in smaller classes, or in a resource class, where they will get special programming with teachers who are adequately prepared.
There are also all kinds of possible school scheduling set-ups that could assist these students without making them look odd or different—or casting them aside as failures.
Retention, making students sit through the same instruction they had the year earlier, is not going to fix reading problems. Moving these students forward, with no consideration, however, won’t help either. These students need special attention for needs that are different from usual readers.
Schools should provide what students with dyslexia need…and not just in traditional public schools either. If students with dyslexia run to any private, parochial, or charter schools, promising to fix their dyslexia, those students should be monitored too!
It is unfair not to assess voucher schools when our tax dollars are used at those schools in the belief that they are doing something better. Parents need proof.
If non-public schools really do work miracles, all educators can learn from that. But let’s not cut public school programs, fail the students with dyslexia on a yearly test, and let unproven outside schools take over—not without making them accountable too!
No school should make any student repeat a grade if they have dyslexia. The student should be provided the best kind of program to date.
Retention is a painful placement for any child—but especially students who have reading and math disabilities including dyslexia. Flunking children in third grade might set them up for a life of failure.
Why can’t parents and educators get together with their local school boards, and agree on an adequate program for students with dyslexia—one that is consistent and appropriately evaluated to determine effectiveness?
Students should not be punished for a condition they have little control over. Retention is a cop out by adults who don’t take the time to learn what would better serve these children.
Children like to be scared on Halloween. They shouldn’t have to be frightened every day of the year that their school is going to punish them for a condition for which they have no control—a disorder officials should be helping to fix.
“Why can’t parents and educators get together with their local school boards, and agree on an adequate program for students with dyslexia—one that is consistent and appropriately evaluated to determine effectiveness?” Great question. It’s one I am asking my school district and BOE right now. And strangely enough, they are very reluctant to answer. They don’t want to respond to my questions about RTI (Response to Intervention) and if the interventions chosen are appropriate for struggling readers. The Director of Reading does not want to tell me why, for 6 elementary schools, each principal gets to chose the RTI program and it may not be scientifically research program. They don’t want to share exactly how they measure progress at each Tier and the type of data shared with parents (or if any data is shared with parents). The school district does not want to talk with me about why their reading curriculum for all students does not include systematic, cumulative, explicit instruction in phonology, sound-symbol association, semantics, syntax, morphology, etc. I can’t get an answer as to how the school district is helping the 1 in 5 students affected by dyslexia. This is a fairly, affluent, suburban district. What is the issue? Could it be that less than 15% of our nation’s teacher prep
programs equip future educators to teach all of the components of the science of reading? That teachers and administrators have bias against “phonics” instead of seeing it as an opportunity to break reading down into it’s essentials and still have plenty of opportunity to immerse children in a rich variety of literature? That there is plenty of opportunity to use genres like poetry and drama to reinforce the learning of letter sounds, syllables, vocabulary, morphology? Could it be that teachers aren’t being supported by their school districts to recognize the warning signs of dyslexia and struggling readers? This is one case where I don’t think the terrible chaos of school reform and reliance on mass produced standardized testing is at fault. It’s the reluctance of schools around the nation to investigate and use scientific research on how the brain learns to read. It’s the failure of educators to put aside prejudice and look to the developments such as fMRI scans that have confirmed the existence of how different brains read differently.
Nancy Bailey says
Nice comment! I agree with most of this, except about phonics. I think most good teachers recognize that phonics is needed for students with reading problems. I do believe teachers aren’t being supported in their school districts and I don’t think Colleges of Education are teaching teachers, the way they used to, about corrective reading practices.
In our fast paced school learning programs, teachers and Administrators alike , don’t have much say about the needs of any student being properly educated. All they can do is retain a child back… Which is a Political statement and another year of financial “help” the school gets, even though the students do not get the services they need for any condition they struggle so desperately with to acheive. Education, for decades, has not been about our children’s abilities to learn or whether they learn at all. Education has been about finding jobs to adults who don’t care enough to adequately pool resources together and implement programs that do have beneficial systems which increase children’s potentials to overcome weaknesses.
Schools are money mills, in the US, and politicians have had no concern about their children or other US children, all they have cared about is themselves and profiting from the Education system failing or continuing as it has with children failing miserably.
Politicians blamed the old Education system for not being effective and they replaced that with an Education system so unfit for children’s needs to be seen individually, that the rates children fail are much higher and the results of all testings are being held from parents, as We are told standard Ives tests are not given back for fear of copying answers for future tests….
I’m sorry to say, that the reason tests are not being shared or the property of that child’s parents, is because the results are proof of how bad the education system fails so many students! Why give parents the proof, when the CommonCire Standards re suppose to be making a difference?! They are not and continue to hide the facts by stealing our children’s work and parents and Educators, administrators all have our hands tied behind our backs… It is a nightmare of epic proportion… All because politicians haven’t cared to do the right thing in education us children and college students alike! Instead of teaching students to succeed, our Educatin Department insists they fail, which keeps our gov., financially in control of providing lifetime help… Pretty scary and very real to the past generations of students who never where helped in educations they had to receive which never made a difference in their lives.
So, clearly, dictation is all politically charged to fail us citizens and adults get frustrated with the students and the students live daily so broken inside and their lives are constantly turned upside down and they never matter, in reality, they do not matter, because our politicians have ensured that all the loopholes of policies created do not help students succeed. All these education Laws and policies are glitter which look good, but never are used or implemented because they are made to just tease parents that maybe their children could be helped or possibly succeed… Nope, not a chance! Why have students succeed and be able to be successful induviduals… Then, the funding for caring for children or adults would decrease and not be necessary. Less money to government and they don’t need all the services they have had to create because of all the failures they created along the way too!
All in all, politicians spend all their time figuring out how to suppress growth and success in children and other adults across our Nation. Voting line is financial gain. The United health care plan is a net, set in place for failed lives which our government allowed to not be treated properly by imposing medical, educational and job securities to… Our government has failed so so many Americans and now they place a mandated health care plan to care for the needs of the people! How utterly sickening! I am more sure then not, these healthcare practices will be nothing short of more not caring! Government makes money and that’s all that matters to any politician! They could care less if States burned or flooded our Soldiers don’t return home! They are not impacted by the decisions they make! They always profit from the continued nonsense and harm done to others though.
Nancy Bailey says
Very good points made here. Thank you. I think the “old” education was better–not perfect–but better than what we have now. The effects of years of reforms that are not as scientifically-based as we have been told, have taken their toll.
Nancy, thank you for your kind words. This blog is a valuable source of information about our educational system and our most vulnerable students. Your parsing of issues is evenhanded and thoughtful. I agree with you that good teachers recognize the value of phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, but if the curriculum they are assigned doesn’t include it adequately and they didn’t receive proper training on the essentials of reading instruction, it’s left to them to make up curriculum out of whole cloth. That’s very tough, especially because basic phonics is not enough.
Nancy Bailey says
I don’t disagree with you. I think teacher education has changed in the last 10 -20 years. There are so many online and fast-track programs to supply teachers it is hard to know what they learn about reading instruction.
In the past, most elementary teachers learned about a variety of reading approaches and corrective reading. Reading specialists and teachers who worked with students with learning disabilities worked with students who needed more specialized help.
Thanks also for the kind words.
Is there a group of Maryland parents of dyslexics? I am starting the journey with a first grader who is receiving ineffectual RTI and I don’t know 8to best advocate for my child.
Nancy Bailey says
Well first, Julie, I wonder if your first grader has dyslexia. I am not keen on RTI. But if you know for sure after a variety of assessments and good counseling, I think there is a Decoding Dyslexia group in Maryland who might be able to help. I would also ask at your child’s school. There should be a school counselor or school psychologist to help. Let us know how you make out and good luck!
Yes! yes!yes!so maddening
I was told from a dyslexia advocate that works with the schools that the reason schools do not put adequate programs in place is that it costs extra money the school districts would have to fork out for the programs. I was also told that teachers will be the last to bring up “learning disorder” even though they have a good clue working with a student day in and day out. Many parents are not aware that they can request testing, that their children might have a learning disability and be eligible for special education services. Lately the lobbying has been for teacher raises, not for programs that will help students with learning disorders. Washington State schools do not have to put any dyslexia programs in place until 2021. Sad, very SAD! How many families can afford a private tutor or private school?
Nancy Bailey says
I agree, Pam, that teachers might not steer students into programs, but not because of their hopes for a better salary, which you seem to be implying. But because the trend for years has been the regular education initiative, placing students in the general class. I used to teach students with learning disabilities in a resource class. But many parents have been convinced that any kind of special ed. class is bad news. And until class sizes are lowered and made manageable, it will be difficult for teachers to give students with any kind of reading difficulty special help. This is a part of the push to privatize. Look for more substandard charter schools unfortunately that don’t include inclusion. Thank you for commenting.
Katie Greving says
I want to say a huge thank you for this blog! I couldn’t agree more. Right now in my state, Iowa, schools are “preparing” for 3rd grade retention to begin following the 2016-17 school year. Although school districts have known this was coming for several years and have received additional funding, little to none of that money has been spent to address the needs of students with dyslexia. In Iowa, students with dyslexia (or even students with an IEP) are not exempt from retention. Only students with an intellectual disabilities who take alternate assessments are.
I and many parents across my state are trying desperately to get our school boards and administrators to learn about dyslexia and adopt programs that work. Occasionally we get through. But it is often as the previous commenter described – lots of resistance. But we will keep trying.
What is especially frustrating is that dyslexic children are often struggling in 1st and 2nd grade, but not badly enough to qualify for special education at that young age. So they are denied specially designed instruction and then subject to 3rd grade retention! That seems like a blatant Child Find violation to me.
Thank you again for bringing awareness to this issue.
Nancy Bailey says
IOWA? Say it isn’t so! Iowa used to be a great state when it came to education.
Looking at dyslexia through Child Find sounds interesting. I think most parents would applaud your comment about children not qualifying for special ed. services but having reading difficulties–especially with some of the unrealistic expectations placed on young children to read well so soon.
Thank you, Katie. Let us know what happens there. Message me and I will write about it, or you can write something about this if you wish.
Thank you so much for this post. Spot on!
“Students should not be punished for a condition they have little control over. Retention is a cop out by adults who don’t take the time to learn what would better serve these children.” ~ so very true!
For more information on how dyslexia and language processing problems negatively impact reading, please read:
Dyslexia Defined: http://bit.ly/1LVpPKK
Highlights of Recent Research: http://bit.ly/1P8j895
A Different Approach to Learning Language: http://bit.ly/1Rjdhgn
Connecting the Dots: http://bit.ly/1iPV4ev
Language processing disorders (which includes dyslexia) run in my family and I wrote the blog posts linked above to help others to better understand struggling readers.
I am so tired of the advice to parents to just read to your kids…we read to ours, a lot, every day, starting before they were toddlers. But, if there are underlying language processing problems, like dyslexia, no amount of reading will “fix” that. Early speech/language intervention is absolutely necessary, and often times that intervention stops too soon once the child appears to be “on track” or to catch up to their peers, only for them to eventually struggle with learning to read, with little recognition that the child’s early speech/language problems are at the root cause of their reading struggles.
Nancy Bailey says
Nice website! Interesting about the expressive language/dyslexia connection. Ohio has problems with the way they run schools and it is no surprise they are doing retention too. It is a reformy state.
Thank you for your comment and let us know if there are any changes. Stay in touch and good luck with your children. It is good they have a mom who understands and advocates for them and other children.
Mark Conley says
When I arrived in Memphis. I learned that we had 30 thousand children in the school system who had been retained from one to three times. At the same time, there was astonishing little data about why they had been retained, or their levels of literacy. In researching the issue, I discovered that big U.S. cities routinely cycle back and forth through retention versus promotion policies. What makes the problem more complex is that changing instruction in just one area – like literacy- may be not enough to undo the damage caused by retention. The kids also lose out in growth in other areas like math. We successfully ran a tutoring program called Memphis Literacy Corps that used 1200 college students each of four years to,provide literacy instruction for four years, eventually serving 12 thousand children. But being a community based program, we could not hope to impact cases of dyslexia or other conditions that require more expert help. What is very true is that retention does not make kids “work harder.” It humiliates them and holds them back in more ways than we can imagine. Eventually, retention policies choke the very systems that are supposed to help the kids.. We have to ask: What is it in our systems where children are failing in the first place? and What should we be doing differently when children are not learning in the mainstream? Just holding them back, against the popular stereotype, does not just make kids work harder and it does not work.
Nancy Bailey says
Great points! Thanks for commenting Mark.
I’ve always felt that anyone who believes retention is good for young children, should visit a middle school class and meet the students who were retained. It is, as you said, about as humiliating as one can imagine to tower over your younger classmates while doing the same work.
And the same folks who love retention dare blame schools for a dropout crisis!
Julie Borst says
I’m my district, they hold children back in first grade. It’s disgraceful. Parents have no idea they can refuse and have their child moved forward. They also are not given the information to move forward, requesting evaluations or services. I’ve parents come to me as early in the school year as November, having been told their child will be held back. It’s disgraceful.
Nancy Bailey says
Young children know what’s going on. Why not loop classes? If the child has the same teacher 2 years with other children it is much better. Why not try this in a school? It seems easy. Thanks Julie for sharing. I agree with you. No other word to describe it.
Having worked as a Dyslexia Assessment and Reading Specialist for the past 10 years both as an independent contractor in several school districts and as a private tutor, 1 on 1 and remotely, I am still astonished and furious how little appropriate identification, early intervention and remediation occurs for our dyslexic students. Children in preschool and kindergarten can be easily screened to identify the at risk students, even before they begin to learn to read!
Tragically, most schools are still in the dark about dyslexia and so these students (1 in 5) are pushed along or retained, only to get the very same ineffective instruction the next year.
Sadly, we have over 35 years of scientific, replicated data showing us what DOES WORK for these very intelligent, hard working, highly creative, out of the box thinkers and yet we throw more tax payers money after another “wait to fail” system (RTI). Parents, please don’t let your school waste more of your student’s time and desire to learn to read, write and spell on ineffective, eclectic, inappropriate systems. Demand an Orton-Gillingham-influenced system. They work if used properly by a trained professional!! What do you have to lose? Low self-esteem, hating school, anxiety, stress doing homework! You will gain a child who believes in his/her abilities and is honored and appreciated for all the strengths that come along with dyslexia! Feel free to email me if you would like more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. E says
Atr the CW Austin Conference in 2015, Dr. Laura Cassidy one of the founders of the LA Key Academy in Baton Rouge said that about 50% of prisoners have dyslexia. As a former special education teacher we treat dyslexia as a problem of laziness and do not give kids the appropriate accommodation which is text to speeh reading or reading the ELA test to dyslexics. It is criminal that students with IEPs are not given this accommodation.
Dr. E says
Thank you for this blog it keep me on my toes and shows me never to forget about the issues.
To me this is false. I had dyslexia and was retained in second grade when I was young. I am thankful every day that my mother (also a teacher) made the decision to retain me. I remember sitting in class not understanding what the teacher was wanting me to do but by the second time I did second grade it started to make sense. I graduated from college with an education degree taught as a teacher for 15 years in a third grade classroom and am now a Master Reading Teacher and a Literacy Specialist. My middle child has the same thing occurring with dyslexia and after failing the state end of the year tests, we are going to retain her and I’m certain I’m doing the right thing. She isn’t scared or worried about it at all and I know it will be a relief to not have to struggle every day being lost and then pushed on the the next grade level to become further behind.
Nancy Bailey says
There are always exceptions, but almost all the research does not support retention. Having taught students with reading disabilities, in middle and high school, I often had students who physically older looking than their peers. It was not easy. Often the second year is just more of the same. Students with dyslexia usually need something different. Perhaps that’s why the dropout rate is high among those who have been retained.
That said, I am glad you are doing well. I wish you and your daughter the best!