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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Moving up or left behind: Schools, parents work together to find what's best for child

Friday, May 7, 2004

SIKESTON -- As the school year comes to a close this month, many children will advance to the next grade level, but some will remain in the same grade for the next year.

Yet school officials say the retention shouldn't come as a surprise to the parents or the students.

"Generally, we use the third quarter parent-teacher conferences to discuss retention so we notify them of any problems early and send out progress reports periodically," said Dr. Stephanie Reddick, assistant superintendent of middle grades and curriculum director for Sikeston R-6.

New Madrid County R-1 holds parent-teacher conferences in fall of the school year.

"It's very important that parents attend the conference during the first quarter and assess how their child is doing. This can help them better prepare their child to be promoted," said New Madrid County R-1 Assistant Superintendent Bill Nance.

In his 24 years of working in education, Nance noted there are pros and cons regarding retention.

"Everybody wants their child to be promoted, but for the betterment of the child, you have to look at what is best for the child," Nance said. "But if they've had nothing but failure during the year, do you want to put that child in the situation where the work is harder the following year when they're not prepared to do it?"

He continued: "How much success is that child going to have if they're having less success the following year? You have to question whether you'd want to put child in the situation."

Both Nance and Reddick noted their schools do not have high retention rates, but sometimes it does have to be done.

Physically the student may be ready, but developmentally they're not. Some kids may need another year to develop those skills, Reddick explained.

While there are some secondary retentions, Reddick said most of the district's retentions -- although there are few -- are in the kindergarten.

"Sometimes the children are not ready to move on due to social factors and teachers may prefer to hold them back in kindergarten before they get into school," Reddick explained.

Generally with kindergarten, teachers are in touch with the parents frequently so retention shouldn't come as a shock, Reddick said.

"If retention is done, it's due to the fact that the teachers feel that its best for the child to be successful," Reddick said.

Also parents involved in Parents as Teachers might better understand their child's needs in school, Reddick pointed out.

Retention rates vary each year and depends on the number of students in each grade, Nance pointed out.

"We do have a retention policy for grades K-8 and we're also working with Senate Bill 319, which targets grade four," Nance said. "If you have a student in grade 4 who's reading below third grade level, we set up a reading plan and they attend summer school and then we assess that child at the end of the summer and determine if they are promoted."

If New Madrid County R-1 or any school district sees a problem with a child, they jump on it early and try to use measures to prevent retention, Nance assured.

For example, educators assess students' difficulty in academic areas and try to involve parents. They also offer after-school tutoring and small group learning sessions to work with the child to try to prevent retention, Nance said. Sikeston R-6 offers a support summer school and after-school programs to prevent retention, and the high school does credit recovery, Reddick said.

"We always encourage parents to stay in contact and know what their child is doing in the classroom," Nance said. "They should let the children show them their work and sit down with child at night and work on areas they're having trouble in and stay in contact with the school."