Linda Darling Hammond, an education expert from Columbia Teachers College, has written an excellent article on the Alternatives to Grade Retention.
If neither social promotion or grade retention is the answer, what does Linda Darling Hammond recommend:
There are at least four complementary strategies school administrators can employ:
- enhancing professional development for teachers to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills they need to teach a wider range of students to meet the standards;
- redesigning school structures to support more intensive learning;
- ensuring that targeted supports and services are available for students when they are needed; and
- employing classroom assessments that better inform teaching.
One challenge is that conservatives favor grade retention. The article discusses this.
In their book The Closing Door: Conservative Policy and Black Opportunity, Gary Orfield and Carole Ashkinaze noted of the grade retention policies of the 1980s accountability era: “Although most of the reforms were popular, the policymakers and educators simply ignored a large body of research showing that they would not produce academic gains and would increase dropout rates. In other words, this was a policy with no probable educational benefits and large costs. The benefits were political and the costs were borne by at-risk students. The damage was psychological as well as educational, increasing the likelihood that at-risk students would drop out before receiving their diplomas; school districts were also hurt by the diversion of resources to repetitive years of education for many students.”
What can a parent do to reduce the risk of grade retention.
First, one should be aware of the ways to have your child be promoted. In Florida, the initial state to introduce mandatory third grade retention for those failing the third grade reading test and not meeting one of the six good cause exemptions, the best options are:
1- Pass the state mandated test — improving reading comprehension is by far the best option
2- Be aware of the good cause exemptions and working with your child’s teacher and school is the next best option. In Florida, here is a paper produced by the Florida Department of Education. These include: