Handling the Student Who is Not Ready to Advance
Beau is a good kid. He’s liked by his peers, respectful of authority, and fun to be around. Yet, he can’t keep up academically. He doesn’t qualify for special education. But is he really ready to advance to another grade level—especially where the academic requirements will be more rigorous and build on his current knowledge base?
No, he’s not ready.
The latest studies indicate that retention doesn’t work—and may increase the likelihood of Beau dropping out of school altogether, which can lead to a host of social and economic difficulties later.
But you’re worried you’re only setting him up for self-esteem issues as he continues to fall further behind his peers. What’s a teacher to do?
According to The Education Trust, intensive targeted tutoring may be the answer. This is not the typical tutoring program, however. It is aligned with the current curriculum. It focuses on the core skills the student will need to succeed in life and in a career.
Additionally, these sessions are scheduled during non-core class time rather than after or before school. The student continues to attend the regularly scheduled class but then goes to the tutoring sessions instead of an elective or study hall. However, it is important to note they should still have the opportunity to attend lunch and most electives with their peers so they don’t see the tutoring as a punishment.
Finally (and this may be the most difficult aspect given staffing issues) these tutoring sessions are led by teachers in a 1:2 teacher-student ratio. Not only is the direct instruction beneficial, but there are also indications that building a strong teacher-student relationship creates a relational support system for the student, which increases the student’s overall engagement in school.
So even if Beau isn’t academically ready to advance to the next grade level, the best practice could be to advance him with an intensive targeting tutoring plan in place to provide a support system to ensure he can succeed. For more helpful information check out our article on helping students suffering from trauma.
About the Author
Felicia Ferguson achieved master’s degrees in Healthcare Administration and Speech-Language Pathology, but is also an award-winning fiction and non-fiction freelance writer. In her speech-language pathology career, she worked in both the school and geriatric settings evaluating and treating students and patients with articulation, cognitive, and language disorders.