My 7 Year Old Held Back in First Grade

Updated on June 28, 2010
M.G. asks from Hicksville, NY
20 answers

I am very upset my son will be held back ,is the thing my son was going to another public school and the teacher at that school and every parent teacher meetings told me my son was doing very good no problem in reading or math, writing or none. now i just move to a differnt borough and i just transfer him to another school, he just has 1 week and half in the new school and i got this letter from them saying he will repeat first grade, i could not beleave why will they say that,i was told that they tested him and he score low on reading and math. my son is 7 and by the time february comes he is going to be 8 years old, so he will be old in first grade. this has my mind going nuts, the other teacher told me at every meeting he was doing good i don"t understand at all. well i"m supposed to meet with the teachear this friday june 25th so speak about it, altough i contac the Board Of Education about this matter. why was i not told about my son education well being at the other school?...anyone has any advice for me?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Hello everyone and thanks for all your answers , well i'm back i spoke to the teachear and assistant principal on friday and here is what they said. so the teacher told me that base on the other school record and testing him he score low on understanding reading and he score to low, so that is why she wants to hold him back on the same grade.but i ask if she ever spoke to the old teachear she said no, all they said was they had him tested to see where was his level. and they said he score low in all. i said he just started in the new school just 2 weeks ago . i think my son was not ready to open up to her and it takes time for my son to open up to new people.and i just left upset don"t know what else should i do. so he will be held back in first grade there is no summer school for him he is to young for it. so i"m trying to do my best to work with him during the summer.

Featured Answers



answers from Hartford on

I think you need to talk to the teacher and get the copies of his tests from the previous school. He could be nervous and still adjusting to the move. I would not just let a teacher who only new my son for a week and half make this kind of decision. Shame on the other school district if they let him fall that far behind and never noticed.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I am an educational therapist and would be glad to discuss specifics with you if you'd like. I specialize in working with struggling students. My e-mail is [email protected] luck!

More Answers



answers from Columbus on

Stand your ground. Request that your son have an evaluation for learning issues because he has had a full year of educational services and another year of the same thing is not going to help him, he needs to have a new instructional method.

Especially if he is in the same school district, they had an affirmative obligation to educate him and to tell you if he was not doing well. One of those two things failed. If he is in a different school district, the state still has the same requirements for grade level standards.

Holding children back is not an effective educational strategy. Go to and scroll down on the left side of the page, click on Retention, and read about it, you will also find some strategies to follow to get your son the kind of evaluation that he may need. Stand your ground, holding him back to see if it was the schools fault is not going to wash, evaluating him to see why he did not learn what they taugh is the way to go, because anther round of 1st grade when he may need targeted intervention strategies is going to put him two years behind, you want to get on this now.

If the old school failed to educate him when he was able, you should look to them for compesnatory service, and at least file a complaint with your state department of education.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi.....I def. agree w/ all the other posts! Also, at the meeting, ask what kind of testing did they perform on you child? I'm curious to know how they based their evaluation of his performance. What are their standards? As many know, you can't just base a child's performance on one kind of testing. Since, if I'm correct, its been only a week and a half that he has been in this school, he might not have tested to his fullest capabilities based on many factors such as his adjustment to a new environment, new teachers, having only 1 1/2 week left of school, a move, etc. Needless to say, I feel that this is a bit premature of the school's assessment of your child's performance based on a week and half and some testing. I feel they didn't give your son a fair chance and like others have stated, they can offer summer school for him to reinforce his skills. I would fight this and not allow him to stay back. Don't feel are your son't advocate and you need to stand up for him!! Ask for the facts and demand that he gets the proper tools and time to be successful. He should be able to start 2nd grade next year! Good Luck!! G.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I find it kind of quick from the new school to tell you he will have to repeat after only 1 1/2 weeks. He is still new to the teacher and his classmates and probably hasn't adjusted to his new class yet. I know my son would not do well after such a short time. Like others mentioned I would get his old records and if nessecary have his old teacher talk to the new teacher. They might be able to figure out what is going on. I know you just want the best for your kid so stick to you gut feeling. Good luck!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Hmm.. I would contact the old school and request his test results. Ask them what level of reading and math was your son performing at and what standardized tests did he take with his results..

I would also wonder if he did not test well at his new school, since he JUST moved there and that can cause a lot of distractions and stress.. Can you request he have another evaluation.. Also ask them how he was evaluated and what tests they used and what level they feel he is reading at and his math abilities are at.

Do you have any of his graded homework to show them from the last school?

Do consider summer reading and math tutoring.. Our daughter loved work books during the summer, maybe get him a few and play school with him.. He can be the teacher and grade your papers.. Make lots of mistakes so he can correct them.. and then have him do work sheets on his own.. See how well you think he is doing..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Something smells rotten here... I agree with all of the posts so far. You really need to get to the bottom of this.

The only thing I have to add is that you keep working through this situation over the summer. Alot of schools shut down for a month or so and that is precious time that will be lost.

I hope this works out for you - keep us posted.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Cincinnati on

Definitely do everything you can for him to not repeat first grade. Teachers have good intentions - even if faulty information is at hand - but the truth is, your son will likely not graduate high school if they hold him back. When he turns 18 he can drop out whether you like it or not. Keep him moving forward and if his academics are low, you need to commit a huge amount of energy into working with him at home to get him where he needs to be. Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Summer school? I feel horrible for your son and I hope you can work something out as this can be horrible for his self esteem.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Honestly if he needs some help better to keep him back a year now then to do it when he's older. Every school is different. My son's old school kids in kindergarten were reading Magic Treehouse books now at his new school it isn't expected until second grade. Huge difference. Your son could have been right where he needed to be at your old school but not at a high enough level in the new school. Find out the needed requirements from the old school and exactly where he stood and fine out the requirements needed for the new school.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jamestown on

Keep getting on the school board and demand to know a reason why. If it is behavioral issues that they are concerned about or if it is a learning disability, (dyslexia) they should've made that known to you and set up an IEP. If all his grades were passing, there's no reason to hold him back except if it was behavioral.

Good luck and stand your ground at the meeting Friday. I will be praying for you.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Wait until your meeting. How is his maturity level? Maybe he could
go on to 2nd with support services in reading and math. See how far
behind they are saying he is. Listen to concerns. I know your mind goes
crazy. Just do what you think is best for your son. If he really needs
to be held back, better now than later. Honestly, you do not want to
see him struggle. Think things over slowly before you make a decision.
Good luck. Keep us posted.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albany on

As you've read, different schools have different expectations. My son in third grade was doing spelling words like "overlook" which, while it's a big word, it is made up of two easier words. My friend's son in 2nd grade in another state was doing words like "abbreviation"!!! He has more homework than my son has in 3rd grade too.

College can be the same way. Back home a friend was going to a very well known university for nursing. 2 years in she switched to the private college in the country I was going to. Guess what? Almost a year's worth of her classes didn't count because they tested her on entrance and she didn't score high enough.

The schools CAN base things on an entrance test. I had to take one for high school AND college so while transcripts matter some, the entrance test matters more because that is based on what the current school expects.

I would find out what he is considered behind on and see if they would be willing to retest him at the end of the summer. Then you can spend the summer working with him to bring him up to speed. If you can do so, great and they should move him to 2nd grade. If not, he needs to repeat 1st because if he doesn't have a strong foundation, it is going to affect everything else he learns from here on out. He MUST have a strong foundation or like a house, he will crumble as school gets harder.

Whatever you do, please don't make a big deal about this in front of him. Be careful what you say so as not to make it seem like it is his fault or he isn't smart enough or whatever. The reality is, your son is just as smart today as he was 2 weeks ago. He probably just hasn't learned some of the stuff yet that they tested him on because of the difference between schools. It's very important you reassure him that everything is okay no matter how things turn out!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I agree with contacting the other school & getting copies of his records. Different schools have different criteria for moving a child to the next grade. Then, wait for the meeting with the teacher. There may be things that you can do over the summer that might keep him with his class. I understand your concern about not keeping him behind, but I don't understand your concern about his age. My son & some of his classmates just finished kindergarten and they just turned 7. These kids will be entering 1st grade at the age of 7 & turning 8 during the year. The kids don't really care about age at this point & by the time they do, it won't matter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with most of the posts here that you need to get detailed records from the old school including a report card and any formal testing. If you have some of his completed work from the old school that helps too. Meet with the teacher and see why she thinks he should be held back. Bring a notebook and take notes, if you can bring a friend or relative your trust that may help you feel more confident and less overwhelmed (this is mainly for if you meet with several school people at once). I would ask to have him retested in the fall. If they give you a hard time about it you can always ask for a full evaluation for special education services (if you make the request in writing then they need to that evaluation and I believe it is a national law). Probably working with him yourself over the summer or going to a tutoring place is a good bet (it may help if the tutoring service will test him at the end and beginning).

I am writing partly as a social worker who has gotten children evaluated for special services and partly as a child who had to repeat 1st grade. I grew up and went to school not far from where you are living, another town in the same county. I moved from one town to the next town and the school wanted to hold me back. I wasn't reading well at the end of first grade but I was also the youngest and smallest child in the class. I started school at 4.5 and my birthday was 3 days from the cut off date (Dec 28). Because of my birthday I was close in age to both grades and I had a shy personality as a child. I definitely benefited from being with the younger class and by 3 rd or 4th grade I had an academic advantage. It matters a lot later on. Jr. High and High school were very competitive academically where I went to school (I took 6 college level classes in High school). If you are moving from NYC to Nassau county it may be a big difference in how hard the work is. Because of your son's age it doesn't necessarily make sense to hold him back if you can find a way to make sure he is caught up. But letting him struggle will not help him either--if he is not reading well (at least grade level) by 3rd grade he will probably always struggle through school and not do well. It is well worth making sure he gets a good start with reading especially.

I saw you addition. Maybe a school counselor from the new school can try and help you get the records from the old school. You might also try requesting the records in writing and send a copy to the school board as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

The reason is that there is a different curriculum in each school. One school's curriculum might be more advanced or ahead of the other school's. They might even require more than the other school. State laws just mandate a core curriculum that a school must follow; however, schools can go beyond or add to the core curriculum. You might want to ask the school exactly how far behind your child is and if there is a way for your child to catch up in the summer or even go to summer school.



answers from Seattle on

You know... schools are totally different from district to district. In my neice's school 1st graders are expected to be reading chapter books (like the magic treehouse or hardy boys) by the end of the first grade, and to be finishing a 100 page book in about 4 hours. In my son's old school first graders were expected to be able to sound out MOST of the words in a picture book like Clifford Goes to the Circus.

I don't know NY very well, but in changing Boroughs... did you also change districts? If so, your daughter could have been top of her class in the first school and bottom in the second. This is one reason why when we moved, even if we had to be out of school for 3 months, my mum would only allow us to start in the fall, or over winter break. Either would allow us to catch up or acclimate to the new district.

Ditto... get all the records from the last school.



answers from New York on

You should understand exactly what's happening. Keep asking questions until you do. Absolutely get ALL your sons records and report cards from the other school, even if they just give you copies. My experience is in CT but here, the records are yours and his. Show them to the new teacher and see if that changes the decision. Find out what his reading score is and what the state mandates. In CT, there are standards in each grade for reading level that determine if a child should pass or be retained. The scores are from the DRA 2 reading test. Find out from the Board of Education or from other parents or the Family Resource Center if the school has one, if you can get an "advocate." This person will make sure the school, the teachers and the special ed. team if necessary, give you the most accurate information and up to date test scores. If they think there is a learning disability you can write a letter stating that you would like him tested and (in CT) they have to do this within 45 school days (so it may happen next year.) I have read the research that says that students who are retained are less likely to graduate, but I do not know if that is because the underlying problem is never addressed. In my experience, if your child cannot read at grade level this year, he will be frustrated and too far behind if he goes to the next grade and the work is more challenging. This will lower his self-esteem and alienate him from school. I have followed my second grade students who kept getting promoted and did not receive extra services and they were at least 2 grade levels behind in 4th grade. They became rude and had behavior issues because they could not do the work. Summer school should be an option if your son just needs to get used to the new curriculum and catch up. I hope that you get all the information you need so that your son can do his best!



answers from Utica on

Hi M.
Obviously the two school systems have different standards, the first teacher was lying, or he had not been at the second school system long enough to make an informed decision.
We moved between states & types of schools when my girls were 7, I wanted them retained and the principal said "there is no reason according to these records for retention". So did the new school get records or did they have to go by a single test?
It doesn't matter anyway, at the meeting ask what you have to do over the summer to have him go on if that is what you want. But before you decide do some honest assessment. On some homeschool curriculum sights they will tell you what your child needs to know to succeed at any grade level. Read the first grade list to see if those things are complete. If so you can be sure there was a test problem at the new school. If not you can assume that the teacher at the first school had a different standard or was lying. Either way take to heart what the board says your son needs to know to go on and teach him over the summer telling the board that you want a retest before the year starts to determine where he actually belongs. Hopefully they will go for that. I was advised to do that when our foster daughter came to our house. Because of her level of special need she was going to be out of town for classes, I did ask, and did what was recommended. She ended up in the classroom up from their original placement, and was top of that class, which by the way was not out of town needing an hour or more of busing before and again after.
write me if you want to visit more.
SAHM married 40 years adult children 38, 35,. and twins 20 homeschooled from grade 3. In college with 3.6 &3.7 overall GPA's as they start their junior year.



answers from New York on

I would not let a teacher make the decision about retention. That decision should be made at district level following specific standards and there should be a protocol of interventions used to help struggling students. Get your son's academic records from his previous school. Meet with the new school's principal, and/or the superintendant of schools. The Board of Ed is not an educational entity, they are community volunteers who don't make decisions about students - they do the school budget and such. You are looking for the principal or superintendent of schools.
While standards may be different from school to school, the overall standards in NYC public schools should be the same from borough to borough, so if you move from Staten Island to Queens, the standards should be the same. Ask the principal what the standards are and where your son falls in terms of meeting them
Retention really is not an effective method. If a child is far enough behind standards to consider retention, they likely have some type of learning disability - and retention isn't going to help that. Some additional services through the special ed department or other adjunct services may help that. Again, talk to the principal.
I understand your concerns about age. For the posters who said many kids they know are 7 turning 8 in first grade, in New York, our age cutoff is December - not summertime like many other places. Kids are not 7 turning 8 in February in first grade.
Good luck M.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions