Fix-A-Flat and 3rd Grade Retention


It is currently the fashion to consider retaining only 3rd grade students based entirely on reading scores. There are so many problems with this that I can’t list them all here. It is amazing to me how many state governments and the departments of education have noticed something that educators have known for 100’s of years or at least since age based grades were instituted.

If you pass a student into the next grade without the tools to succeed you guarantee eventual failure, drop out and educational disaffection for many of your students. Social advancement is the perfect illustration of the once much touted “Peter Principal” in action.

And yet the government in a startling case of myopia apparently believes that it will only work in 3rd grade. Can anyone answer why we should wait until 3rd grade to note and remediate deficiencies? I personally would like to know why we have age based grade levels at all during the first four years of school? Wouldn’t it be easier to do away with age based grades and teach and place student based on ability and skill rather than a pre-set inflexible age based curriculum

I have no doubt that this policy may work in the short-term, but what happens in 4th grade when the threat, or if you prefer promise, of retention disappears again only to reappear with little warning in 9th grade.

“Fix a Flat” will fix a tire but it won’t keep it inflated forever as it is a one shot temporary fix and notably it is used after the problem has already occurred. My mother might say this proposed retention policy is simply like, “locking the barn door after the horses are already gone.”

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
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