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Expert Q&A

What should a parent do if their child is socially promoted to a grade beyond their abilities?

My child is eleven years old and is in Jacksonville, Florida. For three years, she has made grades of Ds & Fs. In our last meeting, the school professionals said she can do the work and will be fine for sixth grade in junior high. I know my child and I want her to stay back in the fifth grade, but the teachers, staff and school board refuse to discuss our situation. They have not returned my calls after eight weeks. I’ve been on them for three years. My child failed the fourth grade and they went ahead and passed her based on her FCAT scores. They said she can go to the fifth grade and work on fourth grade math, but that never happened. Now what?

Thank you for your help.
Michelle M. Smith

Dear Michelle,

Your question doesn’t mention whether your child has been evaluated to determine whether she is eligible for special education. Rather than holding her back, you might want to request that she be evaluated to determine why she is having difficulties and to identify what extra help she might need in order to make more progress. If she is already in special education, you should investigate whether the IEP is appropriate, whether she is getting sufficient services and the right kinds of services and whether it is even being implemented as written.

You might seek either an updated school evaluation or obtain a private psychological evaluation to try to determine why she is having academic difficulties. The decision as to whether a student should be retained is complex. You may want to research whether this is generally a good idea or may make things worse in the long run. There is a lot of research available on the internet about grade retention that might help you to answer this question.

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