17 June 2015
Retention in Kindergarten is Not Beneficial In the Long Run
Schools in today’s society are being pressured for increased performance, legislation, and policies regarding grade level promotion standards. With this influx of pressure on our schools, the result has been a call to end social promotion and an emphasis on grade retention as the educational remedy for underachieving children. Among children with Star Wars, SpongeBob, and Dora the Explorer backpacks who will walk from kindergarten into first grade this fall, some will only watch as their classmates move forward in their elementary school careers.
My son, Jacob, was to be one of those students who would have watched as his friends and twin brother move on in their educational careers because he was having difficulties connecting with some foundational skills necessary to be successful in school. Jacob has been working on these same skills over a number of years. He began working on these skills at home as a toddler, in two and half years of preschool, and again in kindergarten. The only evidence and/or explanation that was presented to me by his teacher that “showed” why he was being considered for retention was an assessment worksheet, which gave a numerical value depending on the answers provided. The value obtained on the assessment indicated whether or not the child was a good candidate for retention. I was not going to have my son, Jacob, retained based on just this criteria, and chose to have him promoted to first grade.
Several studies conducted show that a child that has been retained in kindergarten showed little to no improvement in their academic achievement in later grades, greater social and health implicati...
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...e learned. My son has had ample opportunities to gain the foundational skills he needs, and yet he still continues to struggle. What will one more year of the same material really do to improve his ability to retain the information? Will he be receiving the instruction in a new, creative way that could help him learn the skills? I doubt it. “When weighing the pros and cons of a decision to retain or promote a student, it is critical to emphasize to educators and parents that a century of research has failed to demonstrate the benefits of grade retention over promotion to the next grade for any group of students. Instead, we must focus on implementing evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to promote social and cognitive competence and facilitate the academic success of all students.” (National Association of School Psychologists, July 2002)
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