The Women's Journal

Act Now… To Avoid Tough Academic Choices In June

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Article By Dr. Raymond J Huntington, Co-Founder of Huntington Learning Center

From PTA meetings to student-teacher conferences to the pages of your daily newspaper, the term “social promotion” is becoming a familiar, and sometimes emotional, topic of discussion. It happens when teachers decide to pass students on to the next grade even though they know they have not met the standards of achievement for the current grade. For decades, it’s been done, usually subconsciously, to avoid damaging children’s self-esteem. But over the past few years the rules and rhetoric around the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act and concerns about high school students who are unqualified for graduation have led scores of educators to curtail the practice.

And yet the most obvious alternative – ‘grade retention’ – has engendered a good bit of tense discussion as well. While conventional wisdom would lead many to believe that students have a better chance of mastering material by going through a year’s worth of schooling a second time, many educators and organizations, including the national Association of School Psychologists, argue that many of these students develop social and behavioral problems that inhibit their long-term academic achievement.

If your child is struggling academically, chances are neither option will be very appealing when the school year ends – which is why you need to take action now to ensure that you and your child’s teachers are confident that he or she is indeed ready to move forward this June.

One way to do this is to keep track of what your child should be achieving at various points of each individual school year. Report cards and progress reports are good indicators, as are test scores and comments from teachers. But it’s also important to pay attention to the chronological direction of your child’s progress. If your son or daughter performed well during the first and second quarter of this school year, chances are good that he or she built a solid foundation for the increasingly difficult challenges that typically mark the third and fourth quarters. If grades have gone down as the year has gone on, your child will have to work very hard to stop a downward spiral and catch up before promotion or retention decisions are made.

If that second quarter report card was uninspiring, it’s important to talk with your child’s teacher as soon as possible. Find out which skills your son or daughter is trying to master.  Ask if there are any behavioral issues that are impacting academic achievement, and if the teacher is satisfied that your child is completing homework satisfactorily and on time. Make sure you understand what skills your child should be acquiring and find out if extra assistance is available for helping your son or daughter catch up.

But it’s also important to take a long-range view, and make sure you understand exactly which skills your child should be mastering at each grade in the K – 12 continuums. The early grades are especially critical for acquiring reading, language, and mathematics skills that form the foundation for higher level work.  Success in middle school requires more reasoning and critical thinking skills that are vital for understanding literature, history, and other humanities.  And as most parents of high school students know, the last three years are literally the make-or-break point for charting a course for higher education and the demands of the workplace today.

In most cases, you can also find a wealth of information on your state’s Department of Education website. Most of these sites provide a detailed description of the common core standards students must master at each grade. Most schools pay close attention to these standards and align their curriculum, teaching, and tests to them.  Knowing what your child is expected to know in every subject will help you gauge his or her progress toward meeting those expectations.  Most sites also have special recourses for parents who want to be better partners in their children’s studies, such as how to monitor homework and study habits, how to make your child become a better reader, and how to instill a lifelong love of learning that will give your child powerful fuel in the race to achieve for years to come.

Dr. Raymond J. Huntington  is co-founder of Huntington Learning Center, which has helped children achieve success in school for over 35 years.
For more information about how Huntington can help your child,
call 1-800-CAN-LEARN.

Maggie Lage_on11_sq Maggie Lage is the Executive Director of the Huntington Learning Center in Newark, 34 Liberty Plaza, Kirkwood Hwy. Newark, DE  19711.

Founded in 1977, Huntington Learning Center has offered supplemental education services longer than any other provider. Parents often contact Huntington when they receive a particularly alarming report card or other communication saying their child is falling behind. Many also reach out to Huntington because they are concerned their child may have poor study skills, or difficulty in performing to grade level in reading and math.

Hear what parents are saying about Huntington

I just wanted to thank you for working with me and my family from the beginning to help me get the tutoring I needed for the SATs. You were always so willing and beyond flexible to help meet my personal needs. I truly appreciate all of the hard work you did to put me with a WONDERFUL teacher and help me boost my scores in order to help me achieve my dreams!

We wish to thank you and everyone at Huntington. The devotion and patience shown has been wonderful. Maggie, we will never forget how you went beyond the call of duty
to help us.

Maggie Lage is the Executive Director of the Huntington Learning Center in Newark

34 Liberty Plaza | Kirkwood Highway | Newark, DE 19711

For more information or to schedule a consultation at the Newark location

call 302-737-1150 or visit