School districts around the country are now requiring many students to pass tests that evaluate them on educational skills that they should have acquired by that point, such as certain levels of literacy, before allowing them to advance to the next grade level. If the student does not pass these tests, then they are retained at their current grade level and forced to repeat the grade. This policy is commonly known as the mandatory retention policy of not promoting students that are not in possession of the basic skills tested on educational exams. However, many parents and schools cannot agree on whether a child should be retained.
Studies have found that retention does not necessarily help out a student’s lack of educational skills. In addition, it may be more harmful than beneficial. Many students have high drop out rates because of retention.
Schools and teachers will sometimes consult with parents because they believe that a student is not ready and able to be promoted to the next grade level. This makes many parents uneasy about having a child held back in school. However, parents have many options to prevent their child from being retained. These include:
- Request copies of school files – These copies will allow a parent to review why their child is being asked to remain in their current grade level
- Determine what teaching style was used – Many students do not respond to certain teaching styles and need special help
- Ask if a school has an intensive reading program – Many schools that want to retain a child have special programs to help a student recover their reading abilities so they can be promoted to the next grade level
There are many occasions where parents and schools have honest disagreements and are unable to come to an agreement regarding promotion. In this situation, parents can have outside help in resolving the matter:
- File a complaint with the United States Department of Education – Send copies of your child’s records and files
- Ask to speak with district administrators – District administrators can review the case and determine the best course of action
A government attorney can help parents to determine the best course of action regarding their child’s retention. Attorney’s can help to work with school officials to determine if retention is in a child’s best interests.