The Public School Parent's Network                    
A Resource Guide and Information Source for Parents





Grade Retention in
Public Schools

Demanding Equal
Administrative Accountability
 for Success or Failure


PSPN                                                                                           11/08/09


    The academic success or failure of a child, is a shared responsibility between parents, teachers, and the student. To reverse a path toward failure, parents that see their child having difficulties with course material must intervene swiftly, especially in elementary and middle school grades. These are the really tough battles for parents not only because of the time and energy that will be demanded, but because it is also a very stressful time for both you and your child. The parent of a failing child must become a mediator, a tutor, a motivator, and a supervisor.

     As the mediator, you are the liaison between your child, and his or her teacher.  Most teachers only want what is best for their students.  They are encouraging, caring, motivating and positive participants in a child's academic success.  What needs to be underscored however, is that this type of teacher should not be a parent's dream come true.  This kind of teacher needs to be demanded by all parents of public school children. Teachers accept the responsibility and should feel a sense of obligation to educate each and every child in their class.  Parents need to know that it is a teacher’s responsibility to find a way to help all of their students be successful academically. 

      As parents we must hold our educators equally accountable in a child's academic success or failure and parents must demand that teachers and administrators participate fully in implementing a plan to effect a full reversal from a path toward failure.  Academic failure is typically viewed as a reflection of the child's inability to retain and process information, however that same incidence of failure can just as easily be reflective of a teacher's inability to motivate and stimulate the desire to learn in a student.  As parents we must investigate, and insist upon having the opportunity to evaluate what happens inside the classroom before we can begin to help our children. 

     Your first step is to ask for a conference with your child's teacher and then parents must prepare themselves to ask the tough questions. For example:      

bullet How many years have you taught at this grade level?
bullet Is your field of study math, science, elementary education, ... etc?
bullet What percentages of your student’s pass or fail each year?
bullet Do you have National Board Certification?
bullet Have you reviewed my child’s academic background thoroughly? Then ask for those facts to be repeated to you.
bullet Do you perceive any kind of learning disability in my child?
bullet What do you see as the biggest hindrance to my child’s academic success?
bullet What have you done thus far to help my child better perform academically?
bullet What recommendations do you have for me to help my child at home to better prepare for class?
bullet What procedures are you going to put in place to further assist my child inside the classroom?
bullet What day’s can you help my child after school?
bullet What kind of interactions have you noticed with my child and your other students?
bullet What day of the week may I come by and sit in on your class to observe my child?

      We also suggest that parents never leave their school’s administration out of the picture. Talk to your principal about your concerns, and let your child’s teacher know that you have addressed your concerns with the school's administration. This introduces accountability on all levels, and for all participants.  Ask the administrator of the school what your local board of education dictates as intervention procedures for struggling students, and make sure those intervention steps are implemented for your child? 

     Parent's must also over come the fear of "over-reacting" to a child's poor academic performance.  Parent's often opt for a "wait and see" position to poor grades rather than jumping in with both feet.  Afraid of being viewed as a nuisance to a teacher or an over protective parent,... many parents wait too late to become involved.  The more failures you child experiences, the more difficult it becomes to obtain even an  average score at the end of a grading period.  Don't wait!  Ask your child's teacher to notify you immediately of problems your child is experiencing in class and request as many conferences as it takes to achieve a positive outcome.

     The parent of a struggling child must also make the time to become involved with their children academically. This means lot's of homework, staying on top of assignments, studying for test, drills and practice sessions even when homework is not assigned, finding creative ways to motivate your child, and if necessary researching sources for outside assistance. Bottom line, you’re going back to school. Not only are you responsible for your daily task as employee and/or parent, … you have to accept and add on your child’s academic responsibilities to your "To Do" list as well. You will be exhausted and at times frustrated, but ultimately greatly rewarded for your efforts and investment of time.   Our homework page has wonderful links that will help you help your child, and as this section continues to develop, we will look for additional links that will help with more disciplined tutoring.

       Based on age appropriate expectations, establishing a sense of accountability and commitment in your child's attitude toward schoolwork is key, and discipline will become the word of the day.   This is perhaps the most difficult part of a turn around process.  Parent's must make their academic expectations of their children clear and reasonable.  Lay down the ground rules and then stick to them.  No matter how much they whine, no matter how exhausted your day, and no matter how stressful things may become, ... you must establish a homework routine and stick with it.  Set a goal, give consistent positive motivation, praise the victories, reward the accomplishments, and let your child know that they are not alone.  When lapses occur, there should be appropriate consequences to bear.

      Parents have to explore all the possibilities that inhibit a child’s academic success and the possibilities are limitless. We often chalk up a poor academic performance to a child's refusal to comply with the known classroom requirements or an apparent lack of mental ability to handle grade level assignments when in fact a wide variety of seemingly inconsequential things can affect your child’s performance in class. When all efforts have been exhausted in terms of help at home, and intervention strategies implemented at school, then parents should consider requesting the assistance of school psychologist or guidance counselors. Your school’s counseling staff has the training and accessibility to observe your child in a classroom setting, and the ability to take note of small nuances that parents may never notice. Your guidance counselor is also trained to be able to effectively communicate with your child on their level. Because of that training, a good guidance counselor may quite possibly be successful in uncovering deep-seated issues that may be influencing your child negatively in class.

     If all parties concerned truly work in concert toward the common goal of your child's academic success, your child will be academically successful.  Getting everyone to work from the same page is not an easy task, but parents must find their own resolve in insisting that everyone involved  pulls their assigned weight and meets their individual academic expectations.

  Assessment and Evaluation



  Should you hold your child back?

When Report Cards Don't Make the Grade


Kidsource Online: 
Escalating Kindergarten Curriculum
(excerpt) The practice of kindergarten retention is increasing dramatically. In some districts, as many as 60% of kindergartners are judged to be unready for first grade. These children are provided with alternative programming: developmental kindergarten (followed by regular kindergarten), transition or pre-first grade, or the repeating of kindergarten.



American Association of School Administrators: 
Alternatives to Grade Retention -
(excerpt) Four complementary strategies to improve teaching and learning make more sense than holding students in grade... 


National Association of School Psychologist: 

Retention and Promotion: A Handout for Parents

Should my Child Repeat a Grade? 
Test Publisher Statements on High Stakes Testing -
about Using their Test to Make Grade Promotion Decisions

Focus Adolescent Services: 
If a teen begins to fail in school:  What Parents and Teachers can do.


bullet 15 to 19 percent of U.S. students are retained in grade each year.
bullet In many large urban districts upwards of 50 percent of students who enter kindergarten are likely to be retained at least once.
bullet The most frequently repeated grades are kindergarten through second.
bullet Retained students are more likely to be male, be African-American or Hispanic, and come from a lower socio-economic class.
bullet Retained students are more likely to have parents who did not graduate from high school.

The Balanced View: Social Promotion & Retention

Education  Promotion Policies Modified: One Size Doesn't Fit All (excerpt) Three of the school districts -- Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit -- have modified their promotion policies or are currently considering doing so. Those modifications are not a signal that the school districts are going back to the days of social promotion, school officials say. Rather, they are acknowledging that a "one size fits all" promotion policy doesn't necessarily benefit all children in all circumstances.







Academics Issues

Academic Tracking
Achievement Gap
Curriculum Issues
Grade Retention
Parent-Teacher Conflicts
Student-Teacher Conflicts Testing
Tutoring Options

Homework Help


Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
Shedding Light on Grade Retention

US Department of Education:  
End of Grade Test

Education Encyclopedia,State
Social Promotion - In Comparison to Grade Retention, Advantages and Disadvantages, Different Perspectives

Pediatrics APP
Predictors of Early Grade Retention Among Children in the United States

National Polictics
Social Promotion Is Bad; Repeating a Grade May Be Worse

LD Online:
Grade Retention- A History of Failure

About our 
Promote or Retain? Questions about Tougher School Standards

Eric Database:
When Retention is Recommended, What Should Parents Do
Testing and Grade Retention (non-promotion)  
Hot Topics: In-Grade Retention










































































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