You thought I forgot Halloween because I posted earlier today? No. Here is an old post that is unfortunately still relevant today. There is no point in rewriting what is already said.
Happy Halloween! Have fun and stay safe out there!
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.
Rebecca deCoca says
My son was failing reading tests in third grade (back in 1996) because of dyslexia, which the school psychologist refused to evaluate so that he could get extra help. Fortunately, a friend of mine was a special ed teacher, and she said what he needed to learn to do was break down big words by seeing smaller familiar words inside them (not by trying to sound them out), and I worked with him on that. She also said that in 4th grade he should stop having so much trouble because context becomes more important than phonics for understanding, and he was good at that, and it was true. It certainly wouldn’t have helped him to repeat 3rd grade. He ended up getting a 32 in reading comprehension on the ACT. He still can’t spell, but his college papers were the best organized (thought processes) I’ve ever seen. So your post is exactly right.
Nancy Bailey says
Rebecca, you have just explained why special education intervention is so important. Thank you! I only wish it hadn’t been such a struggle for you and your son.
And it is wonderful to hear that he overcame and adapted to his difficulties. In the end that is what matters most. You did good, Mom! Best wishes to you and your son!