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Posted By: denise gelberg on March 5, 2002
Dear Dr. Bruggeman,
Thank you for your thoughtful reply to my comments on retention.

Too often in education, fads rule the day: phonics vs. whole language, open classroom vs. teacher driven/lecture methodology. Retention, I'm afraid, seems to fall into this trap as well. Politicians recommend that anyone who doesn't meet "standards" should be prevented from moving on. Child centered education proponents say never retain.

I believe that when a child fails to thrive in school, that child must be looked at with a fresh perspective, with all factors being evaluated and all "remedies" weighed. As you so correctly indicate, underlying problems with language or learning style may explain a child's poor performance. However, there really are kids who are just not ready to take advantage of all the best teaching we have to offer them; certainly not enough for a whole class of "transitioning" first graders, but an occasional child. (I, too, remember that transitional first grade fad.)

Often these kids are chronologically the youngest kids in the class. A University of Rochester study recently found that these "young for cohort" youngsters often do not outgrow their "youngness" and suffer at least throughout middle school, particularly in the realm of behavior and work habits.

Certainly, more research needs to be done to help those of us in the trenches face the question of what to do with a child who seems equipped cognitively and linquistically to tackle school, and whose only "handicap" appears to be immaturity.

Thanks again for your reply. I wish you a fine rest of the school year.
Denise Gelberg
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 People who were held back/"failed" a grade who later went on to pursue careers in education by Jill Johnson on February 23, 2002
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