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Special Ed Services Lacking for Kids Who Repeat a Grade

Majority of youngsters not given individual education plans, research shows

THURSDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Many elementary school students who are held back don't receive a plan for special education services, according to a U.S. study that looked at 380 kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 3 students who had to repeat a grade.

Among the 300 kindergarten and grade 1 students, only 12.9 percent had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) on record during the year they were held back and 18.2 percent received an IEP in the next one to five years. But nearly 69 percent never received an IEP, the researchers noted.

Among the 80 third-graders, 18.9 percent had an IEP during or before the year they were held back, 8.8 percent received one within the next one to two years, and 72.3 percent never received an IEP, the study found.

The results are published in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

In a news release issued by the journal, the study authors point out that kindergarten and grade 1 students who were held back were less likely to receive an IEP if they lived in the suburbs rather than in rural areas, and if their family had a high socioeconomic status.

"Although debates about the value of grade retention abound, the practice, in and of itself, has never been demonstrated to be an effective intervention relative to subsequent academic achievement or socioemotional adjustment. Therefore, some experts in the field believe that retention should be accompanied by focused individualized assessments of children's special education needs," wrote study author Dr. Michael Silverstein, of Boston Medical Center, and colleagues.

"Although our results do not definitely demonstrate that retained children have been denied their rights to such assessments, they raise the question of whether the potential special education needs of retained children, particularly those who demonstrate persistent academic difficulties, are being addressed consistently," the authors concluded.

Each year in the United States, 5 percent to 10 percent of students are held back. About 10 percent of students aged 16 to 19 have repeated a grade, according to the news release.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about IEPs.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, June 1, 2009

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