Back to School at

Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Retention in Seventh Grade

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: My 12-year-old daughter is failing seventh-grade math - my choices are summer school or holding her back a year. I know she will not be able to do eight-grade math without some help. She is the youngest in her class and she will be 13 in August. She goes to a school that has 7th grade through 12 grade classes. She doesn't seem to mind the idea of being held back or summer school. Which would be best for her or do the least damage?

A: Don't hold your daughter back. It probably won't help her. In fact, study after study has shown that most students who are held back achieve less and score lower on standardized achievement tests than similar students who are promoted. Although your daughter has not expressed concern about being held back, most children find it to be so upsetting that it still bothers them as adults. Furthermore, students who are held back tend to get into trouble, dislike school, and feel badly about themselves more often than children who go on to the next grade. In addition, the National Association of School Psychologists notes that the weakened self-esteem that usually accompanies retention plays a role in how well the child may cope in the future.

It may now be too late to enroll your child in summer school. However, there are alternative remedies that you can still undertake to improve her math skills such as using a tutor or enrolling her in a commercial learning center. No matter how much help she gets in math this summer, it is likely that she will need continuing help during the next school year. As soon as possible, talk to the school and find out what assistance can be given to your daughter in eighth grade to improve her math skills. Certainly, she needs to be tested to discover exactly what her weak areas in math are. Then you can work with the school to draw up a plan to boost her math skills. You may find it essential to have her continue to work with a tutor or at a learning center during the school year.

Keep making the effort to improve your daughter's math skills. Students need to have a good foundation in math before they enter high school because they are now being required to take advanced math courses for both graduation and admission to college.

More on: Expert Advice

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

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.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit to sign our petition to save handwriting!

11 Coolest Lunch Boxes for Kids
Send your child's lunch to school in style! Check out our picks for the 11 best lunch boxes with great features from BPA-free accessories to spill-resistant fabric.

7 Important Back-to-School Safety Tips
Follow these back-to-school safety tips to make sure your child stays safe on the way to school, in the classroom, and while on the playground.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!