Should this Kindergartner Be Retained?


The Question:

I have a child who will need to be retained. There is some opposition.
What criteria do you use to make your argument?

The Answers:


Be strong – but be kind. Gather FACTS and try to keep emotions out of it. Talk about the positives of repeating for the child. Pull out the paper trail and what has worked, what has not, etc. Good luck!


Light’s Retention Scale. I hope I spelled that right. I have only filled it out once. I have two I am recommending retention for this year. One family is supportive. I haven’t got any idea about the other family. The parent hasn’t shared their feelings yet. We will meet face to face in a week. These two will be the first I have recommended retention for in many years. I have been in k 10 years and have only recommended retention one other time.



Are you comfortable having parent/parents come observe the class? Maybe show other student work (names blacked out) next to their child’s work? I find it especially helpful to talk about the Social Emotional Learning aspect, giving them time to gain those social skills that helps them develop into confident, contributing, enthusiastic learners.



I have one student who will be retained for next year. She still is only able to correctly identify 6 lowercase letters and 5 capital. Because of this her phonetic awareness and sight word recognition is non-existent. She also struggles with number identification as well. She receives Title 1 services twice a week and is having the same struggles in there as well.

Keep very detailed documentation of progress or lack thereof, as well as what will be expected of the child when entering first grade. When you put it in these terms hopefully the family will see that this is the best choice, because if the child is not retained he/she will struggle for the rest of his/her academic career!



Light’s Scale Also, talk about the gift of time. Not just next year but years down the road. Especially if this child is Young. Overall maturity really makes a difference.



Is the child comparatively young? Small? If not….retention may not be the answer. S/he may need extra support in the following years so holding them back may not be the answer. Usually academics are not the reason to hold a child back in kindergarten – rather, overall physical and emotional development would be the key elements to look at – is that what’s keeping their academics from progressing?



Make sure you have a clear trail of all the options that you have exhausted – SpEd assessments, interventions etc. Then just go with facts, like others have said.



If it is mainly based on academic progress, I wouldn’t retain. There could be something else going on and another year won’t fix that.



I always use “the gift of time”…and developmental mile markers. After all, not all babies roll over, talk, get teeth, or walk at the same time. It’s NOT FAIR to expect things from a child who is developmentally still growing! They have the REST of their lives and schooling to be pushed and scheduled. Use next year to help him/her build a strong foundation for a lifetime of learning…or you could risk lower self esteem, motivation, and burn out. That would be so sad, especially if it can be avoided!!!!



Use Light’s Retention Scale to rate the situation. It gives scores to academic progress, age of child, age in relation to younger siblings, size of your school and other factors. Consider carefully, talk with your RtI coordinator!



I show parents assessments for around Oct/Nov of the next grade.



If parents fight this you put, placed in first grade, rather than passed to first grade. That way you are covered.



The research all shows that if it is for academic reasons, it doesn’t help much in any grade. On the other hand, if another year of growing up would make a difference, it is developmental. That makes a difference, but only in the youngest grades.



A supportive family and a developmentally young child are the two keys, the only keys, to a retention in K being successful.



Kindergarten in Missouri is not mandatory, so even if the parents are opposed, despite thorough documentation, we sent the child to first grade. We always gave first grade a heads up to get interventions ready to go from day 1. Our district also has a policy that a child WILL be retained after 4th grade, without prior retentions, if the child is more than 2 grade levels behind in reading. When we tell parents this, they are more inclined to have their child retained early, rather than later.



We use a data trends sheet that shows what the district requires for promotion and what the child’s score is on each area. It is very cut and dry


Kate Elizabeth

I share lots of data, pointing out benchmarks and future goals. My district requires growth plans for students below benchmark earlier in the year, so candidates for retention usually have already signed this plan. When students are young/ immature, I always bring up the social pressures that they will surely face in older grades. Wouldn’t they rather have an older, wiser, leader as a sixth grader than a young follower?



Talk about how you want school to be a positive experience. If the student were to go on to first grade the struggle would wear on them and could create such a frustration level that they give up. By repeating K the student will build a strong foundation and gain confidence, which will in turn create success. As educators we want them to be successful.



I have found that describing the demands and expectations of first grade in comparison to what the child can do, versus coming back to kindergarten and feeling successful to be effective.



Light’s Retention Scale. I disagree with the gift of time topic. Time is not a commodity that we can give. What a second year does is give the child the opportunity to reach his/ her potential on their own schedule.



There is no easy answer here. I have been looking at the common core standards for k to help me decide and for 1st grade too. My issue is a disengaged higher order thinking child who simply is non-conforming to any type of schoolwork or assessments…


2 thoughts on “Should this Kindergartner Be Retained?

  1. If you believe that the student who is being retained will be able to catch up and stay caught up throughout his/her education then that’s a great choice to discuss with parents. If you believe that the student will struggle even after retention then you need to talk with special education department and the parents.

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