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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

After a year of not really learning, more kids repeat a grade

More students are repeating a grade, report Brooke Schultz and Heather Hollingsworth for Associated Press. Parents are asking "for do-overs to help their children recover from the tumult of remote learning, quarantines and school staff shortages."

Holding students back went out of fashion decades ago: Educators say retained students do worse in the long run compared to students of similar achievement levels who go on to the next grade. "But backers of retention say none of the research was conducted in a pandemic, when many children wrestled with Zoom lessons and some stopped logging in entirely, write Schultz and Hollingsworth.

A number of states passed laws allowing parents to request an extra year for their child, they report. "The number of retained students in the state jumped by about 20,000, to over 45,000 students."

Kristi Price decided her son Braylon needed to repeat sixth grade, which had been disrupted by frequent quarantines and an injury that sent him home for remote classes. On the second time around, he had "an individualized education program that helped him build more focus" and "more one-on-one attention from teachers helped too."

In suburban Kansas City, Celeste Roberts decided last year for another round of second grade for her son, who she said was struggling even before the pandemic. When virtual learning was a bust, he spent the year learning at a slower pace with his grandmother, a retired teacher who bought goats to keep things fun.
Roberts said repeating the year helped her son academically and his friends hardly noticed.
“Even with peers, some of them were like, ‘Wait, shouldn’t you be in third grade?’ And he’s just like, ‘Well, I didn’t go to school because of COVID,’” she said. “And they’re kind of like, ‘OK, cool.’

Fordham's Michael Petrilli calls for giving disadvantaged children the year of learning they lost. However, 'move at your own pace' model is very controversial. Keeping students in school for an extra year also is very expensive.

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