An extra year in school did not help her son, says Vicky Dorman, and in fact, holding him back was a traumatic experience for the boy.

"We held him back in first grade. He was too immature and couldn't sit still and concentrate. The teacher suggested we retain him, and we talked to the principal, too."She was concerned about the potential for stigma as her son stayed in first grade while classmates went on to second and believes now that the concern was justified.

"The other kids teased him about having failed," said the Kaysville mother. Her son now is a high school senior and has struggled through school despite the additional year at the beginning.

The boy's own feelings of failure were a concern, she said.

"I don't think he benefited from the extra year. It didn't make him any smarter, and he was still hyperactive - had the same problems."

In retrospect, she believes, it would have served the child better to have addressed the problems rather than holding him back for a year.

The school, however, "didn't offer any special help, no remediation. They just felt he was too immature. That was it. They said he would struggle all through school." And he did.

When he reached the secondary grades, it was hard to keep him interested in education, Dorman said. While the feelings of stigma faded over the years, he is a child for whom school has not been a great experience.

"I wish I had kept him with his class and worked more with him. It probably was more harmful holding him back, from the standpoint of his self-esteem."

Her son had the disadvantage of being younger than most of his classmates in first grade. His birthday was right on Oct. 31 deadline, she said.

"I let him go, but it would perhaps have been a better decision to have held him back (at home)," she said.



Frustration: Mother asserts that if son had repeated a grade, he wouldn't be limping through high school now.

If schoolteachers and administrators had been willing to hold Bob back in elementary school, he wouldn't now be facing his senior year with barely enough credits to graduate, Marie Nelson believes.

Nelson (fictitious names are used to protect her children) has been frustrated several times in her efforts to have her children retained. School officials have told her, "He couldn't do any better than he's doing if we held him back." They predicted that retaining the boy would lead to frustration and the potential for drug abuse.

"They labeled them (Bob and a younger son Jim) and kept them in a cubby hole. They failed to find the real problems. They decided at the outset that (the boys) were not academically capable or that they had social problems. Then they'd start the next grade with strikes already against them. Teachers told THEM they couldn't do better than were doing, so they didn't try."

Nelson found through working at home with the boys that they were capable of doing better. The older boy was found to have dyslexia, a learning disability that should have been detected by teachers, she said.

She spent an entire summer helping Jim bring his math skills up to standard, using a workbook provided by the school. At the beginning of the next year, a new teacher "threw the book in a corner" and refused to accept the out-of-school work. An "incomplete" grade was not changed.

Both boys have taken summer classes and other remedial opportunities, but they don't compensate for the ground that was lost early in their school experiences, Nelson said.

She also has been willing to make extra efforts to help them, "but you can't help when they don't let you."

Bob, hopefully, will graduate by the skin of his teeth, she said. It's too late now for the remediation and special help that should have occurred years ago.

While many outstanding teachers have given the boys positive experiences, too many have been willing to let them slide through without demanding the kind of performance she hoped for, Nelson said.