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    I teach sixth
    By maryteach

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    in a middle school, and we have sent kids back to fifth grade (elementary school) that we felt just weren't going to make it this time around. It's always a maturity thing. Sending a really, really, really immature kid to middle school is really asking for it (because all of our kids are so mature--ha ha). So we have sent a few back. One boy we wanted to send back, but his parents refused. He had the worst year I've ever seen a kid have. He's in eighth grade now, and he's just a mess. I don't think his current problems are solely due to not being retained, but he just got here a year or so too early, and it sure didn't help. His parents should have let us send him back.

    Having said that, I don't like to retain kids, and recommend very few for retention. I do think it's a problem for their self-esteem. But here's the real problem: Elementary schools pass them along, year after year, and they come to us and they can't read, they don't know any math, they're immature, and they are NOT ready for middle school. Some of them are so far behind that we can't catch them up. So we pass them along too, and they get to high school and they're reading at a sixth grade level, they still don't know math (the math problems begin snowballing in about fourth grade) and they are NOT ready for high school. The high schools don't know what to do with them, either. So they graduate kids who still can't read, still can't do math....we have a PROBLEM, Houston!!!!! The colleges are complaining now that kids have no academic chops.

    My district is going completely standards-based, in response to this problem (really a HUGE problem in my district). Kids will no longer be in a grade. They'll be on a math level, a reading level, a science level....once they pass all the benchmarks for a level at a proficient level, they'll move on, but not until then. So instead of having reading levels from K to 8th in my classes, I will have, say, a Level 3-4 class, maybe a Level 5-6, class, you get the idea. We are really overhauling everything we're doing in an attempt to stop sending not-ready kids to middle school and high school and out into the world.

    Wish us luck.

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