Retention does not work

Some states have a policy of mandatory retention for students who cannot pass the reading portion of the state standards test. But retention alone does not work – and never has, as this parent shared.

I am 34 years old, and I have struggled all my life with reading and spelling. As a result, I have this record playing over and over in my head that says I’m not smart.

My mother has a photo of me going into first grade. I did not want to go. My head is down, my arms are at my side, and my book bag is dragging along the ground. This was my theme during my entire school career. I hated school from the very beginning. I only wish someone had noticed all of the signs of my dyslexia.

Retention - Shame - little kid

Fast forward to 8th grade. I knew I was struggling – and struggling bad. I don’t recall going to classes most of 8th grade. I don’t know why I passed that grade since I didn’t attend much.

I skipped even more school during 9th grade because I was still struggling and felt stupid. I finally dropped out.

Many years later, I got my GED. I then attended a local community college. I have many credits, but not enough to get my AA. That’s because I have taken “Basic English Composition” 3 times – and dropped out 3 times. It is just too difficult for me.

At 18, I become a mother to a wonderful and incredibly smart boy named Jerry. I did not know the preschool warning signs of dyslexia.

But his kindergarten teacher informed me of his difficulty with letter recognition. Later, in first and second grade, I heard about more of his problems. He was eventually tested by the school, and he got an IEP for an Auditory Processing problem. The tests also showed he had a high IQ.

They advised that I read aloud to Jerry every day so he could hear good reading, which they claimed would teach him fluency. Despite doing that, Jerry “hit the brick wall” in 3rd grade. He was retained because he could not pass the end-of-year state standards test.

When I dropped him off at school during his second time through third grade, it was so hard for me to watch him pass all the other kids in the hallway and go back to the same wing he was in last year. I can only imagine how hard it was on him. It was a horrible year.

Fast forward. My son is now 15 years old and going into the 9th grade. Jerry continues to struggle with reading and spelling – despite getting special ed services for 6 years. He can’t even say the months of the year in order.

I watched your video on dyslexia last night and cried almost the entire way through it. You were talking about me and Jerry. I’m one of “those” kids. So is my dad, my aunt, my sister and my nephew. The inheritance pattern is so clear.

I feel very angry at the school system. I did EVERYTHING they told me to do – but none of it worked. Jerry has adapted and can get by – but even though he is smart, he feels so stupid at times – a feeling I know down to my core. It happens every time he is called on to read aloud in class, or when he can’t spell even simple words.

I am so afraid he is going to drop out – like I did.

3 responses

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