Friday, February 7, 2014

Retention Story

During the summer vacation between my 7th and 8th grade school years, I developed a friendship with a classmate named Mark.  Mark was a year ahead of me in school and that summer, both of our dads had become very sick (mine with kidney disease). We spent most of our vacation in hospitals and both of our dads ended up going to the Mayo Clinic.  In the fall, my dad came home, but Mark's didn't.  Shortly after his dad passed away, his oldest brother was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Mark missed a lot of school that year.  He also was retained for failing grades.  Mark and I graduated together and have remained life-long friends.  When I think about retention, I usually picture Mark and how upset and embarrassed he was after his retention. We never talk about it, but I know it's still a source of embarrassment for him today.

Recently, I've been reading a lot of articles on retention and discussing with my peers what the research says about retention. Nearly every article shows that retention increases the chance of school drop out, decreases attendance, and if there is an academic gain it is usually gone at the end of two years, leaving the student at the bottom of class again. Knowing all this, there have still been times (especially with kindergarten students) where I have opted for retention hoping that the child will benefit from the "gift of time". It's frustrating when there are no obvious solutions for how to assist students who aren't ready for "the next level".

Looking at the research, the best options for these students include early identification of areas of struggle, research-based interventions, and ongoing progress monitoring.  The research also shows that these students simply need more time on task...there's the rub.  How do we create opportunities for them to "catch up"?  Is it a summer camp, before or after school clubs, or some other innovative use of instructional time?? I'm not sure of the answer, but the research seems clear on what does not work.  I think nationwide, we as educators need to get creative and try to figure out what could work and maybe experiment with innovative schedules and methods.  As glad as I am that Mark and I became friends, I still wish he would have been given the opportunity to stay with his peers and perhaps had one less setback in his life that terrible year.


Monday, February 10: 11:30-12:30 Jon to Rotary Meeting at Laurel Park (I will be thanking our Rotarian ELVs and promoting the program for new recruits!)

Tuesday, February 11: 8:15 am Scheduling Meeting for new ESL support teacher (K-2 teachers and Lindsey and Denise)
                                       1:00 pm Jon and Deb Meeting for SIP

Wednesday, February 12: 8:05 am PBS Committee Meeting
                                            5:00-9:00 pm PTSA Founder's Dinner at Vista Tech

Thursday, February 13: 8:00 am Staff Meeting in the LMC (School Improvement Presentation)

Friday, February 14: 8:00-10:00 am Jon to Principal Advisory Committee
                                   PTA Popcorn at 2:30 Recess
                                   HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!


Monday, February 17: No School
Tuesday, February 18: No Students 8:00-11:00 Building Based PD (in Board Room)
                                                            12:30-3:30 District PD by grade level at various buildings
Tuesday, February 25: SOTM Assembly for First Things First 3:00 pm
Friday, February 28: MIRM Kick-off Assembly 3:00 pm


"No man was ever wise by chance." - Lucius Annaeus Seneca
"There were no temples or shrines among us save those of nature." - Charles Eastman
"One always tends to overpraise a long book, because one has got through it." - E.M. Forster

Here is the video for Stephen Covey's habit of "First things first"


  1. I really enjoy reading your blogs. I feel like I am getting to know you better with each one that I read! We have a lot in common and it is great to be able to connect! Keep up the great work!

  2. Thanks!! I'm glad you're enjoying them. I enjoy sharing my experiences and my thoughts each week and hope they stimulate conversations, help make connections, and maybe bring some smiles. :)