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Old 08-05-2005, 01:48 PM   #1
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28,000 Texas FIFTH Graders are.....

Being held back this year and are repeating 5th grade.

[Q]Held back by TAKS
Parents offered tips to help fifth-graders who repeat grade


07:59 AM CDT on Friday, August 5, 2005


By HERB BOOTH / The Dallas Morning News


When the bell rings for the first day of school, about 10 percent of the state's 280,000-plus sixth-graders won't be there.

They'll still be in fifth grade.

The 2004-05 fifth-graders were the first students to be held back at that grade level because they didn't pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills after three tries. A similar hurdle was placed before these students when they were in third grade, and they'll be in the vanguard again when they're in eighth grade.

Parents need not fear this process, educators say. There are resources available to those whose children have fallen behind or been held back. In addition, educators say, retention actually can help students.

Such high-stakes testing is not unique to Texas. About half the states have instituted some type of must-pass testing, according to the Education Commission of the States. President Bush's No Child Left Behind education law requires standardized tests in reading and math for third through eighth grades.

In Texas, tying the TAKS test to grade promotion grew out of the belief that social promotion – advancing students, regardless of academic progress, to keep them with their peers – is harmful.

Texas Education Agency spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman agrees with that theory.

"Of course, we're concerned about the psychological well-being of students who are retained," she said.

"But research has shown that students who are promoted not having the appropriate skills for that grade level are harmed more than those who aren't. They are more likely to drop out."

Ms. Marchman said the agency put out information through its Web site about the requirements and implications if third- or fifth-graders don't pass the TAKS. She said TAKS study guides are available to give students a boost.

In addition, she said, the TEA offered $39 million in competitive grants for the Texas Reading First Initiative in 2004-05 to implement scientifically based reading programs.

Many districts offer parents advice through Web sites, which include tips on how to help their children learn. The National Education Association Web site also is replete with information to help parents.

DallasNews.com/extra

Navigating Your School: Tips for parents, students, teachers
While reading to younger children is a common suggestion, Jan Bolinsky, a fifth-grade teacher at Brandenburg Intermediate School in Duncanville, said simply reading isn't enough anymore. She said TAKS requires more thinking than that.

"You need to interact with a child when reading," Ms. Bolinsky said. "Ask why the character is doing that in the book. Ask if that's strange or what do you think about that. Teach them to think. They'll have to figure out the answer. You're making them think, and they get a feeling of knowing how to find out."

In an effort to help students who are held back, teachers and administrators are developing systems and using new programs to address their needs. Some use small groups, mentoring or tutoring.

But teachers admit they can't do it all.

"That's changed," Ms. Bolinsky said. "There are so many ways and places to find the answers."

Ms. Bolinsky said her method would make the subject matter "more real" for students.

"I'm going to strive to make learning more practical for these students. Make it something they can relate to, something they can see. You can't just put it out there because the students didn't understand the first time," said Ms. Bolinsky, who was Duncanville's elementary teacher of the year in 2004. "You have to individualize plans to reach these students. You have to be positive, make them feel like they're leaders."

Linda Polk, a fifth-grade teacher at Dallas' J.W. Ray Elementary School, said an individualized plan might increase reading or employ hands-on activities.

"You have to ask the question, 'What worked and what didn't work for this student?' " Ms. Polk said.

Educators have access to the TAKS questions and answers that the retained students missed.

"We can take that and further assess the students to target what they need to learn," said Jane Clevenger, a fifth-grade teacher at Dallas' Leila P. Cowart Elementary School. "Supposedly, we'll have that on the computer this year. What the information allows us to do is set up a profile system for each student."

Regardless of what method, program or instruction teachers employ, they'll be relying heavily on another important component to these students' education: their parents.

"Parental support is a key in reaching not just these students, but all students," Ms. Clevenger said. "They need to be part of a student's individual plan."

Finally, educators said, parents shouldn't be all that alarmed if their children are held back.

Liz Birdwell, director of elementary and intermediate education for Duncanville schools, said most students benefit from being retained.

"It doesn't benefit a child to keep social promotions," Ms. Birdwell said. "That student never catches up. From my experience, there have been very few students who haven't benefited when they've been retained."

Ms. Polk said educators and parents notice retention a lot more than the students.

"I'm not too sure they totally understand it," Ms. Polk said. "They may not know the reality of retention until it happens. They adjust among their new peers just fine."

[/Q]

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont....1c46a1c2.html
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Old 08-05-2005, 01:58 PM   #2
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I knew a few kids that got held back when I was in middle school and they actually did seem to do better once they were.

If you start falling behind it only gets worse
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Old 08-05-2005, 02:14 PM   #3
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28,000

In my ten year career.....

I have NEVER seen a kid in 5th grade retained.

I just saw my 1st 4th grader retained....
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Old 08-05-2005, 02:27 PM   #4
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I never actually heard of anybody around my age group getting held back that early. This was in 6th / 7th grade
All I can say is that I really hope this does help because if its true, that kids are really falling behind it would be better to get the system back on track and not letting kids slide just to get them on another grade.
It makes me sad to hear of adults that are almost illiterate because they have such a hard time doing things that other people can do with no problem
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Old 08-05-2005, 02:44 PM   #5
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I don't necessarily think that being held back a grade is harmful to children (I skipped year 6 in school [5th grade in the US] and I think I benefited from that, rather than it being a problem) but surely if 10% of all children in the state are being held back a grade it indicates a wider problem. Whether that problem is with the quality of teaching, or with the assessment which determined those students would be held back a grade, I don't know, but it does seem to indicate some problem with the education system in Texas.
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Old 08-05-2005, 03:20 PM   #6
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28,000 = 1/10th of the 5th grade population in TX.

If 1/10th of the kids are being kept back in any grade there is something seriously wrong.

Traditionally, students in the town I work in are identified and retained in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grades, at an age when there is likely less social stigma surrounding the retention.

With NCLB students in TX should be identified in the 3rd grade and 4th grade....fifth grade, is VERY late.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:19 PM   #7
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This story is no more encouraging, but for me at least, it clarified the 3rd grade/5th grade discrepancy thing a bit.

3rd, 5th graders who failed TAKS to be held back

Gustavo Reveles Acosta
El Paso Times, 19 July 2005

When El Paso children go back to school this fall, there might be an abundance of second-year fifth-graders who have been retained for failing the TAKS.

But figures released by the El Paso, Ysleta and Socorro independent school districts show fewer third-graders than fifth-graders could potentially be held back for failing the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills during the 2004-05 school year.

"It's scary to think that there will be a bunch of fifth-graders sticking around in the elementary school instead of going on to middle school," West Side parent Robert Zuñiga said. "My kids passed, but it could easily happen to anyone."

Overall, fifth-graders performed at a lower level than third-graders. Although this was third year third-graders must pass the reading portion of the TAKS to be promoted to fourth grade, it is the first time fifth-graders were required pass both the reading and the math portions of the test. While the El Paso and Socorro districts had third-grade passing percentage rates in the mid-90s, the rates for fifth-graders in both districts were in the mid-80s.

Patsy Bulos, a teacher who served as a literacy coordinator at MacArthur Intermediate last year, said she was surprised to see so many fifth-graders fail the reading test given their high marks two years ago when they were in the third grade. "I know the teachers and the students work hard, but I don't feel we are reaching these students early enough," she said.


El Paso TAKS results:
Third-grade reading: Out of 4,490 students, 268 (6 percent) failed.

Fifth-grade reading: Out of 4,477 students, 533 (12.8 percent) failed.

Fifth-grade math: Out of 4,235 students, 520 (12.3 percent) failed.



Quote:
Originally posted by Dreadsox
I have NEVER seen a kid in 5th grade retained.

I just saw my 1st 4th grader retained....
Wow!!! You're in Boston, right? My sister-in-law teaches in Wilmington--I will have to ask her if she's noticed the same. In Mississippi, where I grew up, it was quite common to see kids repeating 4th, 5th, 6th grades. Then again, MS has the worst schools in the country, according to most studies...

In your opinion, is there something intrinsic about 5th grade that ought to make it easier to pass? I understand the principle that the effects of poor preparation are cumulative, but isn't it also possible that they might just be doing a poorer job teaching 5th-grade-level skills than 3rd-grade level skills?
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:22 PM   #8
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Something is wrong with the schools in Texas. I'm just glad I'm not a parent there.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by verte76
Something is wrong with the schools in Texas. I'm just glad I'm not a parent there.
Simply moving students to the next grade is not a sign that the schools are OK.

I'm sure this will be challenged for a variety of reasons.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


Simply moving students to the next grade is not a sign that the schools are OK.
Very good point.

I'm lucky to be in a very good school district, and our school has plenty of money poured into it, at least. But I still get this feeling that there's something wrong with our school system, and I can't put my finger on it. I feel like we lack challenges, discipline, the necessity to work hard...and that's largely on the part of the students (although I'm talking middle/high school level, not the fifth grade). Most of the kids around me don't even bother to work hard, and they get away with it. I don't think there's any magical solution to our school system, half the other kids are too spoiled to appreciate their education.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:44 PM   #11
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The problem with this type of testing is that people are going to start teaching to the test, rather than teaching to the courses. You know what I mean? Like....teachers aren't going to start teaching only things that appear on the tests and won't give kids more knowledge.

It could be very dangerous for the education system in America.
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:45 PM   #12
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english barrier?
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Old 08-05-2005, 04:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland


In your opinion, is there something intrinsic about 5th grade that ought to make it easier to pass? I understand the principle that the effects of poor preparation are cumulative, but isn't it also possible that they might just be doing a poorer job teaching 5th-grade-level skills than 3rd-grade level skills?

In my opinion....no way.....

When you look at the area of Mathematics in the elementary school, you are generally looking at a spiralling curriculum. there are very few new concepts introduced from year to year when you look at the way things are set up.

For example, this past year I looped with my whole class. I took the exact class of thrid graders through third and 4th grades. When you look at the concepts in the textbooks, the text books are basically set up so that in each chapter you have approximately 85% repeated material, with the rest being new concepts. This is MOST chapters...there are usually more new concepts later in the text.

Notice, I am saying this is the way a curriculum is built. Most curriculums are designed to build on each year.....

For me, accounting for 50% of my students education taking the test this past year, I really felt the pressure to produce. I had the third grade results to build on, examine, and use to target areas for improvement.

If Texas only is testing in grades 3 and 5, that is a two year gap. IN MA, we are now testing Grade3-8. Reading and Math, with Social Studies and Science being tested in the 5th grade as well. Currrently to graduate with a diploma in MA you must pass the Grade 10 test in Reading, Math, and Science, otherwise you receive a certificate of attendance on graduation day, not a diploma.
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Old 08-05-2005, 05:01 PM   #14
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I've heard the occasional story of a kid being held back a grade when I was in school, but that many kids being held back? That's kinda raising some questions there.

I've wondered sometimes if certain problems with the learning process in some schools is due to kids being taught in a way that they'll remember the material up to test time, but then will immediately forget about said material once the next unit starts. It seems sometimes that kids aren't being taught stuff in a way that they can remember it for a longer period of time, instead of just for that one unit.

Angela
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Old 08-05-2005, 05:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel
It seems sometimes that kids aren't being taught stuff in a way that they can remember it for a longer period of time, instead of just for that one unit.

Angela
And that is EXACTLY part of the current problem. How often do we learn something, and exxpect ourselves to remember it past the test?

As an educator, it is important to recognize learning styles. It is also important to NOT hold back the entire class when a majority of the students understand a concept.

You can incorporate daily review activities, to keep the students who get it fresh, and give students who did not get it, further opportunities and exposure to eventually get the concept.

I cannot tell you how frustrating it is when teachers do not get through the curriculum.
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