Thursday, May 17, 2007

And so, we go ahead.....

I took today off work & went in to talk to the teacher, the special ed teacher that's been supervising DD in her speach therapy, and the principal. I explained my concerns, they agreed that she isn't exactly comfortable with some of the skills she's been working on this year, but all seemed pretty thoroughly convinced that DD will catch up. I'm not so convinced, still.

The special ed teacher made a comment that at a recent seminar, the special ed teachers were told (and I quote) that "any teacher that still holds any student back should be ashamed of themself" and supposedly that a large quantity of children held back eventually drop out. (To which I promptly told her what a crock of BS I think the no-child-left-behind plan is, and that I don't see ME holding my child back as her being left behind or abandoned as I see it as giving her a second chance to learn what must be learned.) I don't know if that's because of the child's being held back, or because of lack of parental involvement. I personally think that if a child drops out, it says more about the parent's attitude toward school, than it does about the fact that the child was held back. And I remember oh-so-many classmates 10 years ago who were either held back from continuing on along with classmembers older than myself, that then graduated WITH me, and my former classmates that wound up graduating 1 or 2 years behind me after being held back. But, MOST of us graduated. Heck, most of the kids I knew who didn't graduate on time with their class weren't held back, but dropped out anyway. Anyway, that single comment kind of told me that the special ed teacher was going to be a hardliner against me holding DD back, though the principal said it was my choice, and DD's regular teacher said she thinks I'm being very brave to bring this before them as a serious option when so much of the country is opposed to daring to tell our children anything that may wound their fragile views of the world. *wry smile* So, I had one in my corner (at least theoretically) and 2 against me.

And, of course, the special ed. teacher suggested that in the fall we test DD to see how she's doing in ALL her subjects, rather than just reading & comprehension as she has been tested to now. The last time she was so tested (in first grade) she was a little low, but not so low as to make her eligable for the special ed. program. Now, of course, the special ed. teacher wants to test her and see if she qualifies, but now I'm very reluctant (knowing what I do) to put her INTO the special ed. program. I would prefer to hold her back and allow her to catch up, then to push her so far forward till she's so far behind that she qualifies. That just doesn't make sense to me. Of course, that's what was being advocated. It helps, though, that DH spent his whole middle school & high school careers (till he dropped out in favor of homeschooling, from which he finally graduated 2 years later than the rest of his "class") in special ed., frustrated because he was treated as though he was stupid. (He still thinks he's stupid, though I don't. He's not NASA material, but he's not stupid.) So, it certainly helps that DH is on the same page as me as far as holding DD back, instead of passing her on only to have her put in special ed.

Anyway, DD's reading grade is up to average, she's even reading, occasionally, at a 4.6 level. (That is, this is the upper number she's reached, at this point, not that she reads consistently at this level.) I did, actually speak to DD's reading tutor and told her that I was seriously contemplating holding DD back a year, and she said that she thinks it would do DD a world of good.

DD's math scores are pretty consistently about S-minus. Which realistically is maybe a C, possibly down into a D. I'm not comfortable with that. And I made that incredibly clear to the 3 educators present. Her teacher DID say that while DD isn't caught up to where they would like her, in class she's gotten very confident, asking questions and not giving up just because she gets the wrong answer the first time. She seems to think that we can continue to build on that confidence and that DD will continue to work hard in class to improve her grades. I just wish she was as confident & self-motivating here at home as they say she is in school. The teacher did, of course, suggest that if we could just drill the math facts into DD's head she'd do so much better. They don't seem to realize that outside of school, DD isn't nearly so amicable to doing school work. She tends to fight & yell & whine for about 45 minutes (wasting 45 minutes) before she finally settles herself down to do a half-assed job of whatever the homework is, before she throws another tantrum when told to fix her work and finally settling down enough to do the job correctly.

Handwriting and spelling also came down to a direct comment from the teacher stating that DH & I simply must pull more time out of our already furiously busy (most of the time) scheduals and work with DD ourselves. *big ol' sigh* Part of me seriously wanted to ask the teacher if she wanted to take DD home with her for a taste of DD's after-school behavior, seeing as her oldest is just graduating with his PhD in something-or-another and her younger is going to be getting married any day now. I mean, she's raised two well adjusted adult children.... Maybe she'd like to give me a break & take a try at raising mine???? *wink*

Now comes the part I'm still not comfortable with..... Despite my serious misgivings about passing DD on to 4th grade, the principal informed me that there will be a joint 3rd/4th class next year. She suggested that for the next year we place DD in that 3rd/4th class as a 4th grader. That IF DD seems to be falling behind right off the bat, we can bump her back to a 3rd grader (so she'll be doing 3rd grade work, instead of being pushed ahead into 4th grade work, most of it repeating from this year) without it appearing so to her age-mates. I'm not nearly so concerned about the appearance to other kids, but I know that if DD feels attacked by her age-mates because she has been held back, then it may make it harder for her to concentrate on the truly important issue of improving her skills.

Of course, one of the concerns raised by several people (DD's day-care teacher, when I spoke to her about this today, DD's current teacher, the principal, and the special ed. teacher) is that seeing as DD is one of the oldest children in her grade (birthdate Sept. 30th, so she'll turn 10 at the beginning of this next school year), if we hold her back in 3rd grade, that will mean that she'll be turning 18 at the beginning of her junior year of HS. After which point if she decides to drop out, I can't stop her. She could opt to drop out, rather than being a 19 year old senior in HS, or even finishing her junior year. That is a possibility. I would hope, though, that if DD is that close, and DH and I are consistent in our insistence that she graduate & recieve a highschool diploma, she will carry our value of even a basic education at least far enough as to graduate. *sigh*

I guess it does sometimes come down to the biblical proverb to "raise up your child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it". And while I may not hold faith in a lot of what is said in the bible, I know for a fact that this particular proverb does hold true to an extent. We all deviate a little bit from what our parents say to us as we grow up, but I do think that many of us still hold at least some of their values to heart. And I hope that being consistent in my insistance on a decent education will be one of the values that DD holds throughout her life.

So, that's where we're going to go, for now. We'll consider her in 4th grade, but she will be in this combined 3rd/4th grade class. If ANYTHING goes wrong (and I DO mean anything) I've made it clear to the principal, her current teacher, and the special ed. teacher that I WILL have her placed back in 3rd grade, regardless of what their feelings on the matter may be. And I have DH backing me up, and DD said she understands (though it's clear she doesn't necessarily like it) my reasoning.

The day-care teacher (upon learning that DD is struggling in various educational aspects) expressed that she would appreciate if we could share DD's weak spots with her, and she will be sure to help DD concentrate efforts especially on those weak spots in their 2 hours a day they will spend on education at the day-care, this summer. So she's also very adamant that hopefully we can bring DD up to speed during the summer, instead of watching her fall back again.

So, that's where things stand for now. Thanks for the support. I really appreciate it.

Have a Blessed Day!


Anonymous said...

You know, we have the same problems here in Canada. I was once told that if a teacher has their entire class move on to the next grade, they get a bonus! So you can imagine how many kids get held back!

I'm sick and tired of hearing this old "we don't want to hurt their ego's" thing. What will hurt them more the fact that they might learn what they need in life or the fact that they will enter the work world illiterate!

We ran into a lot of the same problems with my son(add teenage hormones) and that's why we pulled him out of public school and began homeschooling him.

I know this is not an option for you but the principal of the daycare hit on a great idea, when she said to let her know what DD's weak spots are and they will work on them this summer. Kids always work harder and do better for someone else(I wish I could figure out why though). The last two summers, I have been tutoring two teenage girls(along with my own kids) and I have seen some amazing progress in all the kids!

Hang in there, it sounds like (almost) all of you are working for the best interest of your DD!

Brightest blessings


sammy_bunny said...

The combined 3rd/4th grade class sounds like a great option. I was in classes like that all the way through elementary school so I could work at whatever grade level was appropriate in each subject. Hopefully that will work out well for her too.

Bardouble29 said...

*sigh*, sometimes being a parent is a heartbreak.

I held my son back a year and it was the most beneficial thing in the world.

I don't know that I agree with the mixed 3rd/4th grade think for DD. It may hurt her more mentally to start the year out as a 4th grader, and then be told two or three weeks in that she is now a 3rd grader.

I know that many years ago being held back was so taboo, but it did my son a world of wonders. It gave him more confidence, and now he is doing excellently in school.

About the homework thing, I have no easy answers. My two knew the rule...Homework comes first before any sports, TV or friends.

Em said...

Oh Kati, what a tough decision! But it sounds like you made the right one. If you read my last post, you'll know that we just faced the exact some decision on Tuesday. And Son17 is in the 10th grade. So the choices never get easy. But your daughter is so far from being 18 that it just seems wrong for them to try to influence your decisions now based on what they "think" might happen then. A parent has to do what feels right at the moment.

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

Why is doing the right thing rarely easy? Never doubt that you are a good Mom Kati.

Moonbeam said...

Hey Kati
You are right to stand up and fight for what you think is best for your daughter. It is a shame that the school system treats children as if they were one grade level in every subject - we vary depending on the things we are good at or enjoy. I think the grade 3/4 split is a good compromise and great praise for the daycare principal who has offered to help her through the summer, that will help build her confidence and get her on track for the next year. Let me know if I can help send any lesson ideas or workbooks (I have plenty and don't mind helping you out).
Stay strong and remember, your decisions for your daughter are what you know are the best for her.

Connie Peterson said...

You know, no-one told me what a trial being parents would be when I started out... it ain't easy at anytime ... I hate to be a "downer" but no matter what decision you make, you will always wonder if it was the right one.

BUt you are on the right path by so seriously considering your options. Hopefully the 3/4 grade class will be more flexible in what she learns and she can catch up or at least not fall behind.

Blessings and good luck.

FoxTayle said...

NCLB, while it has some admirable things about it... it's still only some. But it's goals are unrealistic, it doesn't consider numerous other factors in a child's education and learning process, and it's implemented horribly.

As for passing and holding back... That system has got to be re-evaluated and stigmas need to be removed.