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Posted By: denise gelberg on March 2, 2002
Dear Jill,
As a veteran teacher who has occasionally recommended retention or "another year" for a student, I encourage you to think about it in a different way. I personally never recommend retention for a slow child, a learning disabled child, or anyone who I think can't ultimately succeed in school. I reserve my recommendations for students who look too young to take advantage of the instruction being offered. I liken it to trying to toilet train a one year old - damn hard. Wait a year and it's wholly possible.

I also explain to my students that, if their parents agreed to a retention, it was to correct a mistake that the adults had made by entering them into the school system too young. I also thank them for being so willing to forgive all the adults (teachers and parents)for their mistake. I tell them they were in the wrong grade the first time they were in first grade. This second time will be the "right" time. And, instead of always being in the wrong grade, they will now and forever more be in the right grade.

I must say, the few students I have retained - perhaps ten over 25 years - have found this to be the case. They have become average or better students. I wonder if you will find other people who fall into this category in your research.
Denise Gelberg, Ph.D.
Ithaca, NY
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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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