How to Stop a Child From Being Retained in Texas

Your child has been struggling with his schoolwork and your biggest fear is that he will be held back a year in his school. You imagine this will devastate your child. Perhaps his best friends are in his grade, and they will move on without him. He may hate the idea of having to repeat work he has already completed -- not just areas where he has problems - but all of the work. For many other reasons, you may not want your child to have to repeat a grade. Yet, according to a 2012 Education Commission of the States report, students in grades 5 and 8 in Texas "must be retained if they do not perform satisfactorily on statewide reading or mathematics exams." 2.

Speak to school counselors about what steps can be taken to ensure that your child will be moved forward with the rest of the class for the next school year. Ask for alternatives and options that will help your child catch up to the skill and educational levels of his peers. If there is work that can be made up, ask that he be given another opportunity to complete his assignments. Work with your child every day. Check homework, read aloud, give practice tests and use flashcards to assist him in learning and retaining information.

Students who fail their STAAR math and reading exams in grades 5 or 8 after three tests will not be able to progress to the next class level. If your child fails the STAAR exams, he will be given two opportunities to retake the tests. Accelerated instruction will be made available to him by the Texas school district outside of regular school hours -- before school, after school or during summer breaks.

Seek out alternatives on your own. Tutors are available on almost any subject. Many times the school will offer tutoring services before and after school and sometimes at lunch; however, do ensure your child's needs for recess and nutrition are not overlooked. Sign your child up for tutoring, and monitor his attendance and progress to help guarantee progress and scholastic results. Prepare a portfolio of all of his extra work as well as notes and references from tutors and teachers to present to school officials to plead his case. The 2012 Education Commission of the States report also says that in the state of Texas previously failing students "are deemed proficient on the basis of an alternative assessment or portfolio of student work, or whose principal and reading teacher agree are prepared for the next grade." 2

Inquire as to whether attending summer school or some type of educational program or camp will assist in keeping him with his class the following fall. This may not be a definite manner of keeping him moving forward but it may be a step in the right direction. Again, keep track of his progress and have a file prepared for documentation on your child's efforts before the next school year begins.

Request testing for learning disabilities. If you have tried several methods of elevating his ability to learn and there is little or no change in school work or test scores, your child may have a learning or developmental disability such as dyslexia, Autism Spectrum Disorder or ADHD. Or the disability may also be physical such as poor eye sight or hearing. If your child is found to have a disability even at the end of grades 5 or 8, he may be allowed to progress with his class but with additional assistance from extra personnel in the classroom. He will be protected under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which prohibits discrimination based on disabilities. Request an advocate if the school is not supportive.