Deciding to Have My Dyslexic Daughter Repeat 4Th Grade.

Updated on July 06, 2010
C.F. asks from Avon, OH
15 answers

My daughter is 10 and just finished 4th grade. She worked very hard to earn As and Bs throughout the year. She is greatly struggling with reading, spelling, and comprehension. She was tested by the school and didn't qualify for an IEP or 504 plan. She was given the opportunity to redo some tests and assignments in 4th grade. She was diagnosed with dyslexia six months ago and has been working with a specialized dyslexia tutor two hours a week since we received the diagnosis. We used several other tutors before we finally received her diagnosis. She didn't pass the reading portion of the 3rd grade spring Ohio Achievement test or the 4th grade Ohio Achievement test. Since she is so far behind, I am considering requesting that the school have her repeat 4th grade with the hope that she will catch up. I'm not sure if having her repeat a grade will make a difference because of her disability. Can anyone provide me with advice or personal experiences that will help me make this decision?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to everyone that provided information regarding this decision. I decided not to request that she repeat 4th grade. I am, however, confused about the IEP/504 qualifications. My daughter was diagnosed with a learning disability not otherwise specified by an educational psychologist and with dyslexia by Dyslexia Services. My daughter was also tested and completed an extensive vision therapy program (36 weeks of in office and home therapy) from which we did not see any improvement. I shared all of this testing information with the school personnel and our dyslexia tutor has attended the meeting with the school where we decided to do the IEP testing and for the review of the results of the testing. The tutor agreed that no special education services were warranted. I have a copy of a lengthy Evaluation Team Report from the school which includes testing by the school psychologist, school nurse, occupational therapist, speech therapist, classroom teacher, intervention specialist, and the reading specialist. The results of the various testing were in the average range with a few scores on specific tests in the below average to above average range. The school determined that no specialized instruction was necessary. In 5th grade, my daughter will continue to meet with the reading specialist daily for forty minutes five times a week with a small group of students. What types of services are children with dyslexia receiving through implemented IEPs? Besides the private tutoring, I’m not sure what services the school can provide. Thank you again for all of your time. It has been reassuring to read the responses that I received and know that I am not the only parent that is struggling with this situation.

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answers from Cleveland on

I am an interventionist in a school system on the east side of Cleveland. I would not recommend having her repeat 4th grade. Research shows that there are no advantages to having a student, especially one with a reading disability, repeat a grade. What was the reason for the school system not giving her an IEP or 504 plan? Did they do standardized testing to make their decision? If so, what testing did they do? In my district, we use classroom based evidence to determine if a child qualifies for an IEP- this means that we look at the reading level, fluency level, comprehension, spelling, writing, etc. that is done in the classroom (district assessments, writing prompts, etc.) If the child is consistently struggling in those areas with no support, then a team (consisting of reg. ed. teacher, interventionist, parents, child, school psychologist or guidance counselor, and principal) meets. The team comes up with a goal and a plan. They come back together in about a month to discuss the results. If progress is being made, a new goal is set. If progress is not being made, then we discuss what needs to be done differently. If over time, the child proves to need this type of intervention in order to be successful, then the child qualifies for an IEP or 504. The process is slow but at least the child is getting what they need. The fact that she has a diagnosis (which qualifies as a reading disability) and she has not performed on her OAT tests for 2 years should be enough evidence for the school to do something to help her. If you go on the Ohio Education Website, you should be able to find a copy of "Whose IDEA Is This?" This booklet spells out the rights of parents and students, especially when you are trying to get support from a school like an IEP or 504. I hope that this helps.

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answers from Toledo on

There is NO law requiring you to retain your child, despite the "third grade reading guarantee" in the state of Ohio. Retention at this grade level would do much greater social and emotional harm then any academic failure could. I am curious as to how your school determined that your daughter did not qualify with a school age disability (I am a school psychologist in Ohio) and if she has been diagnosed with a dyslexia, that is a reading disability, and is it affecting her from making adequate progress within the classroom? I would be curious to hear what her comprehensive multi-factored evaluation consisted of. Feel free to contact me if you would like some advice/guidance. Please do not put a lot of stock into the OATs. Remember that not all children test well. It is more important to determine whether or not she has met all of the content standards for 3rd and 4th grade in the area of reading so that you know where she is heading into 5th grade. Please contact me if you would like to talk some more. This is a very difficult decision to make and I believe that you most likely have other options.


I needed to add something because people really need to keep their "advice" to a minimum if they do not know all of the facts. If you do not live in the state where the parent is seeking advice, legal advice really, do not give it!

Just a little FYI, but some facts are a little off with regards to special education, at least in the state of Ohio. This is a problem I often see when I have to work with parents. The wrong person gave the wrong and highly inaccurate advice. I know you all most likely mean well, but you need to know the facts before giving advice. First off, just because someone is diagnosed with ANYTHING does NOT automatically qualify a student with a school age disability. If you look close enough, you can find ANY doctor to give you the diagnosis you want.

The child needs to demonstrate that despite interventions, he/she is not making adequate progress within the classroom when compared to his/her peers. He/She also needs to demonstrate that he/she is not meeting Ohio's content standards for his/her grade level. Interventions must be implemented first before anything else can be completed, including the completion of an evaluation (ETR, MFE, etc). RTI is not yet mandated in the state of Ohio, but interventions are required. The discrepancy model for qualifying students was thrown out years ago in this state as well (more than 7 years ago) so that should not be an issue. And IQ tests or tests of cognitive abilities are not required and quite meaningless when it comes to testing for identifying a learning disability. Also, having a particular "problem" does not mean accommodations must be provided. Reasonable accommodations are provided (even to regular ed students) so that students can equally access the curriculum. Additionally, if you do not have a current IEP, you cannot request an IEP meeting. You can request that an evaluation be completed and the district has 30 days to provide in writing what they will be doing. A district NEVER has to provide tutoring to overcome a problem, IEP or not. Each student is looked at on an individual basis. Lastly, schools DO NOT "push back", if it is meant that they refuse or limit services. We are bound in Ohio to protect children according to IDEA and statements like that infuriate me as an educator!

Sidenote....the Woodcock Johnson test of achievement is worthless when assessing and understanding reading comprehension abilities.

Please do not offer advice if you do not know all of the facts, it makes my job (and others like me) of assisting parents and students more difficult when they come with ideas and demands that are just not true or accurate. Also, when people read information (online) it can often be misconstrued in misinterpreted. Always consult with an educational professional well informed about the laws of special education in your state!

If you do not understand the law or your rights as a parent in the State of Ohio, seek out your local State Support Team or contact the Ohio Department of Education and they will get you in touch with the correct person.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I'm confused. If she's been diagnosed with Dyslexia, then she DOES qualify for 504 accomodation or an IEP. It's a learning disability and the school MUST comply with the law. Go to for a ton of more information on her and your rights provided by federal and state law. If a child has Dyslexia, the school MUST provide accomodations like extra time, typing assignments, etc (it varies depending on the need and what you request - don't wait for the school to make suggestions). The school also MUST provide special services like tutoring to overcome the problem.

I would not repeat 4th grade. She worked hard, don't punish that. It's hard on a child's self-esteem, too. Keep up the tutoring. Put a request for an IEP meeting in writing - the school must respond within 90 school days (in IN, not sure time is different in OH). Know your rights (study and then insist on them. Many schools are pushing back due to budgets so know your rights, put your requests/communication in writing (hand deliver to school office and have them initial that they recieved them) and stay on top of it for your daughter's sake.

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answers from Columbus on

No. Do not retain her. I am a second grade teacher with 20 years experience in grades k-8 in Arizona, Indiana, and now Ohio.. She has a disability that the tutors are working with. Repeating 4th grade will only do more harm.

There are very few retentions anymore. Retention is not usually considered unless a student has extremely poor attendance or is young for his grade level AND behind AND maybe ESL. There will be students far below your child's level that will be promoted and for you to choose to retain yours would only decrease her chances of success in middle school. Curent research shows only negative consequences for retention.

Look at her growth-not whether she passed a standardized test.

And by law, parents always have the final say. The school will not "promote" the child but will "place" the child in the next grade if the parent refuses a retention that is recommended by the school.

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answers from Seattle on

She made A's & B's... which is FANTASTIC, and shows great comprehension... but it's no *wonder* she failed a standardized test with dyslexia (and newly diagnosed at that!). She didn't fail the grade, she failed a test that is nothing BUT letters all jammed up against each other, swirling around. I'm not even dyslexic and those tests give me a hard time. (I test really well, but testing is a learned skill in and of itself.)

Stick with the specialized instruction... and also work with her dyslexia instructor about testing skills.

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answers from Columbus on

I am an Intervention Specialist -- who diagnosed her with dyslexia? IF you have a diagnosis by a PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST, they MUST give her an IEP. She has a specific learning disability in the area of reading.
No she shouldn't repeat 4th grade if she is socially appropriate and has friends. It is a huge impact on who they are and often don't get over it. Several of my previous students will introduce themselves as hi, I'm ... and I should be in 5th grade this year.
Since the school year is out find out when the principal the next school starts back, and meet with him or her IMMEDIATELY!
They should be able to have the tests reviewed, and further testing done with an IEP written the first month to six weeks of school, so that she can receive the appropriate DAILY help needed to allow her to succeed.

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answers from Columbus on


Go to and look at the left side of the page, scroll down to retention and click on it. Read about it, that is not a good strategy for a child with a diagnosed LD.

If your daughter did not pass the 3rd grade OAT and she has a dyslexia diagnosis, she qualifys for a dyslexia intervention program through an IEP. I am assuming that the school told you that she did not qualify because she makes A's and B's but you are holding the OAT that she did not pass which shows educational need.

Exacty what Evaluations were done on her? Did she have a WISC or a Woodcock Cognative? Did they do a Woodcock Johnson test of Acheivement? Did they use the discrepency modle to deny her? Schools are now to use RTI (repsonse to intervention) and she need not even qualify as LD to get intervention services, which is the goal of RTI to keep children from being identified as disabled by providing intervention.

On the wrightslaw site, read "Understanding Tests and Measurments for Parnents and Advocates" and then go back and read her evaluation data. Read about advocacy and Orton Gillingham based reading intervention programs-also called alphabet phonics, this is what she needs, and the school should be providing it.

Holding her back is only going to make her a year behind, if she did not learn reading and spelling they way they taught it in grades 1-4, she is not going to learn it with one more year of 4th grade, the answer is a different program.

Let me know if I can help.


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answers from Cleveland on

I would not hold her back as she has learned the academic material and statistically, self-esteem not worth it since she clearly has learned the academics. The issue that you are having is qualifying her due to her stellar academics, typical situation in a top district, however, she has not passed the reading test. I would hire an advocate (Katie Wetherbee) to not only observe your daughter in school, but attend each and every meeting with you. I have done this with my own daughter. A few other options: Wilson Reading Method or Orton Gillingham. Commit to 2-4 years privately Even in schools, she won't receive as much tutoring as she would this way, however, I would still pursue the IEP/504 due to the reading score. Another option: Lawrence School in Broadview Heights, they specialize in dyslexia and a use a method called Codebreakers based on Orton. There are others in your area that attend. Most families carpool.

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answers from New York on

My daughter has dyslexia. Holding your daughter back will not help her learn to read. The only thing that will help a child with dyslexia learn to read is specialized reading instruction and lots of exposure to reading. Orton Guillingham Method is the gold standard for teaching kids with dyslexia to read.

I do not understand how your daughter does not qualify for an IEP (she does not need a 504 plan for dyslexia) she is below grade level in reading and she has been diagnosed with dyslexia a specific learning disability she definately qualifies for an IEP and special education services. The No Child Left Behind Laws, IDEA makes sure that your daughter has a right to an individualized educational plan. Please contact a special education advocate and have her review your daughters rights with you. The advocate can also go to the PPT meetings and talk the lingo with the school. When you bring an Advocate, the school know that you mean business.

When my daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade, the school told me that she should be retained. I refused. The school told me that she did not qualify for an IEP, I refused to sign the papers. I hired an advocate and called another meeting. At that meeting the school granted my daughter every service available. It is funny how she went from no services to every service available so quickly once an advocate was involved!

My daughter receives additional tutoring through the Masonic Learning Center, they provide free Orton Guilingham tutoring to children with dyslexia. It is a great program. Google The Masonic Learning Center and see if there is one in your area, they have facilities throughout the country. You will have to get your daughter on a waiting list if you decide to take advantage of their program. They provide Orton Guillingham Certification to teachers. The teachers undergoing the certification do the tutoring, that is how they are able to do it for free. My daughter's reading took off once she began the program.

I also suggest that you read Sally Shawitz book Overcoming Dyslexia.

If you need any resources PM me.

update: I am not giving legal advice, I am giving parent to parent advice based on my experience, and I am offering to share the resources that I use, including advocates and websites that I use that explain national laws. It is my belief that the parent should be just as knowledgeable if not more than the school about the issues regarding their children. If the do not understand the complicated laws and testing then an advocate can be a great resource to help the parent understand what is going on.

Good Luck

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answers from Indianapolis on

I would ask to sit down with the principal, her 4th grade teacher, next year's 5th grade teacher, and a school counselor and have a meeting. What do they each think based on her performance in class, achieved grades, and on tests?

Good Luck!!



answers from Dallas on

I don't really have any advice, but thought I'd share something that really helped my niece. She was diagnosed with dyslexia in the 4th grade, also. I learned about a program called R.E.A.D. (stands for The Reading Education Assistance Dogs.) It worked wonders in helping my niece's reading skills. If your daughter loves animals, it's worth looking into.The dogs are certified therapy dogs. My niece would read to the dog and she said she felt so much better. Not only was it a cute cuddly dog, but she didn't feel pressured to do well. It was fun for her and she said she didn't feel frustrated or stupid. It totally changed reading for her. She gained more confidence. It's a wonderful program!!




answers from Cincinnati on

I think your daughter's school is trying to pull one on you. She has dyslexia-that is a type of learning disability and she does qualify for services. You have the right to fight the school on their decision.

Did the school test your daughter or did you go elsewhere? If the school did you can ask for a second opinion and I would, Take your daughter somewhere else to get her tested. If she's been diagnosed outside the school, go to the school again and show them the facts, or go over their heads if you have to. You have that right.

I don't think you should have your daughter held back. Just because she didn't pass the reading test doesn't mean anything that's not a reason to hold her back. Granted I understand she struggled and had to work extra hard to get good grades but she was able to do it. Holding her back could do more harm than good and it could shatter her self confidence more than her dyslexia has.

Before school starts again or shortly after I would set up a meeting with her teachers and let them know what is going on with your daughter and come up with a game plan.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Have you considered homeschooling her? With homeschooling, you go as fast or slow as you need so that you teach for the child, not some random test. Children thrive with private instruction, especially when it is done by a loving parent. There is a book called Upgrade by Kevin Swanson. He explains a lot of things about why homeschooling is so beneficial to the student.



answers from Kansas City on

Well according to the No Child Left Behind Act,if she is performing 2 or more grade levels behind in her reading by the end of 4th grade she is required, by law, to repeat fourth grade. So, you need to check with her teachers b/c it may not even be up to you. I taught 3rd grade for 7 years and although we held back a child or two, I'm never convinced it's the right thing to do. It sounds like she's performing to the best of her abilities and now that she's getting specialized treatment for her dyslexia, I would think/hope that she'd be able to catch up more quickly now that you have better strategies for her. It can be really hard on a kid emotionally to be held back and I tend to believe that if she is really trying hard and doing the best she can do it will do more harm than good to hold her back. I would suggest keeping her with her tutor as much as possible and moving her forward. I'm sure you will get answers on both sides of the arugment, but in all the things I've read about and experienced, holding a child back this late in the game will not help them that significantly.



answers from New York on

I think the specialized help for dyslexia will help her much more than holding her back. I know a few dyslexic adults who did not get enough help early on and had trouble with school in high school and college. I also have another friend who is dyslexic now because of a stroke at age 16. She had to completely relearn to read and lost a year of school in the process but with some extra services completed college and has a professional job. I think getting the right help at the right time is the most important factor.

BTW, I was held back in first grade when I changed schools. It helped me mainly socially because I was one of the youngest in the class when I started Kindergarten and I was shy.

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