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Dyslexia and Retention

LD and ADD/ADHD Expert Advice from Eileen S. Marzola, Ed.D.

Q: My seven-year-old son was diagnosed with dyslexia last year by Children's Hospital. The results also showed that he had an overall IQ of 130 on the WISC III, which was consistent with his OLSAT results of 135 given through the school. The school suggested that we hold him back due to his reading issues and that his age was young for a first grader. We decided against this approach and wanted early intervention, but he did not qualify for any intervention through the school because of his performance level. So, we hired a Orton-Gillingham trained tutor to work with our son.

Now, at the end of second grade, the classroom teacher has suggested that we consider retaining him again. His performance in the classroom is average to above average except for reading. His teacher is concerned about the amount of effort and overall work he has to put into reading and writing and thinks retaining him will give him a chance to catch up and be a shining star. He does read at a second-grade level, but that is below the classroom average.

This is the third year that the classroom teacher has suggested retaining him. Are we doing the right thing by moving him on? His maturity is average, he's well behaved in the classroom, happy, and has friends. We think reading is just going to be hard work for him. What do you think? Do you see any benefits in retaining him?

A: I don't see a good reason to retain him. If he is happy, well adjusted, and performing on grade level, even if that is below the class average, he should move up with his class.

If the school is so concerned about his performance, why aren't they providing him with services in class? There should be a range of acceptable performance in his class. Research has long shown that there is no benefit to most kids to have them repeat the grade unless you are also going to give them a change in program. It doesn't sound like any direct services are being offered here.

If your son has made good progress with the Orton-Gillingham tutor, continue. Also, he will probably be eligible for Section 504 modifications because of his dyslexia. This would give him extended time to complete any tests he is given in school. This is an important support he may need while he is strengthening his reading skills. It undoubtedly takes him longer to read than other students. Talk to your school guidance counselor or other appropriate support staff about obtaining these program modifications for him.

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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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