Today I handled an interesting situation. A teacher emailed me to discuss a first grader (we'll call "H") who is going to be nine-years-old in a few weeks. Nine years old in the FIRST grade! He is doing pretty well and is not a behavior problem. She is concerned about his placement---you think???
As we checked his history we found:
1. He has been bounced between three schools over the past four years. In fact, I think I counted about 7 registration slips for when he would start a new school.
2. He has also been bounced around between households. He has been in custody of three different family members.
3. He missed 46 days of school last year---that's a whole quarter!
And we wonder why children get "left behind"? He literally is going to fall through the educational system's cracks if someone doesn't intervene. Thank God for the first grade teacher who is SO kid-oriented that she caught this one.
Once again, I find myself in the position to "play God" with a child's future. At my school I end up in the midst of these conversations and meetings that determine a child's placement. I don't like it. It is such a rock and a hard place. If we promote him now to 2nd grade...he'd be more appropriately placed age-wise, yet he would be missing some of the skills and strategies readers get in first grade. If we don't promote him now, it's almost a sure thing that he will drop out of school before he graduates and become another educational system casualty.
We decided to take a middle ground with this one. We will keep him in first grade on paper, but send him to a second grade classroom to give him the opportunity to make up for lost ground. At the end of the year, we will use the data, his performance and current information to determine whether he will go straight to third grade.
It's his best chance at this point...otherwise, he will turn 13 in the fifth grade.
I am hoping that this time, the decision was a good one and that we have paved the way for a child to have a chance when he thought things were hopeless.