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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.

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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.


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