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DPI has recommendations for families considering holding students back a grade

Posted at 11:34 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 00:34:22-04

WAUKESHA -- — Jessica Diaz and her fiance, Alberto Reyes are worried about their first-grader, Dominic. For him, virtual learning has been a struggle.

"He's behind. I mean, there's no way to catch him up," said Reyes.

"The way they are teaching math nowadays, good luck with that! I have no clue how to add the way they're doing now," he continued.

"They send his work through the iPad but I kind of deter from the iPad because I don't know how to use the iPad," said Reyes.

The couple is considering holding their 7-year-old back a grade. Reyes does the teaching in their family and is overwhelmed with online learning.

"So, when did you start to think okay, this is not working?" TMJ4 News reporter Kristin Byrne asked the parents in a virtual interview.

"When they gave us his iPad and said, 'Here's his classroom and follow that,' and he had no idea what to do," Diaz said.

TMJ4 News took this family's concerns to the state, interviewing Tamra Mouw, the Director of Teaching and Learning with Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction, who said the state doesn't recommend holding students back a grade.

"There is a lot of clear research out there that says grade retention, that's the term for it, grade retention, holding kids back in that same grade, it really does have a negative impact on student achievement," Mouw said.

Mouw said it's not too late to reach out to the school and ask for help.

"Schools are there. They are partners in learning ,and they should be engaging families to be able to support students," Mouw said.

She also recommends families take advantage of PBS Wisconsin. It's free educational content on TV and the internet. She also reminds parents learning can happen every day at home.

"Flying kites and using that as the physics behind that, cooking with kids and talking about mathematics and fractions and parts," she said.

"Instead of focusing on what kids didn't get, how can we get kids ready for learning for the fall?" she said.

Come fall, Mouw said, teachers may need to get many children in the classroom up to speed.

"If there are gaps, or if there are pre-requisite skills that kids maybe missed in the spring, that's when teachers will go ahead and do a lesson to build those pre-requisite skills in order to access grade-level learning," said Mouw.

Alberto Reyes and his fiance want the best for their son and Reyes will keep trying as his teacher.

"We looked up the criteria for first graders to graduate, what they need to know by the end of first grade, and that's kind of what we're working towards is that," Reyes said.

Click here to learn about ways to keep your child's brain active during the pandemic.

Click here to check out activity booklets for kids ages two to seven from WIDA or World-class Instructional Design and Assessment.
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