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Grade-Level Retention


APS Retention Guidelines


Research on Retention and Social Promotion


Retention should only be considered for students when:


  1. A student has been engaged in a school’s full MTSS process, as evidenced by multiple applications of intervention and progress monitoring
  2. A series of  intervention and progress monitoring processes  have failed to engage sufficient levels of growth
  3. The MTSS  team has come to the understanding, through a review of the documentation,  that retention, aligned  with a specific plan for support, provides the best possible opportunity for the student to make the requisite growth toward grade-level expectations


Retention is a potential Tier 3 intervention in the MTSS process and is most often considered in two circumstances:  


  1. A student in grades K-8 is performing significantly below established targets in at least two of the three content areas of reading, writing, and mathematics and has had difficulty responding to intervention, as evidenced by multiple quarters of intervention and monitoring.  
  2. Per the READ Act,  a student in grades K-3 on a READ plan, is not an English Language Learner (ELL), not on an IEP, and still demonstrates a significant reading deficiency (SRD) according to the state cut score (PALS), failing to be responsive to multiple implementations of intervention and monitoring of progress.


No later than the beginning of the third quarter of the school year, school-based MTSS teams must review all students that might be considered for retention.  Parents need to be involved in the MTSS process  prior to a Tier 2 or 3 intervention is identified as a part of a student’s MTSS plan.  A special priority for communication and engagement must be made for any student when retention is being considered as a Tier 3 intervention.


Important Elements of MTSS Process:


Anytime student performance is below established targets and initial attempts at intervention do not produce adequate growth toward targets, the MTSS team should immediately address the situation and document the following:  


  1. Ensure that student is receiving appropriate, effective Tier 1 instruction.  If not, make necessary changes.  
  2. Review and analyze Tier 2 supports.  Team should complete a Root Cause Analysis of student difficulties and make appropriate changes to ensure intervention plan addresses Root Cause.  
  3. Allow time for interventions to impact student achievement, typically 6-8 weeks.  
  4. If progress is not evident, the team should make appropriate changes to plan and implement Tier 3 interventions by repeating steps 2 and 3 as necessary.  
  5. If progress is evident, retention should no longer be considered.  Intervention should be continued as needed until student reaches target.  


Specific Note Regarding English Language Learners  


Retention of students identified as limited English proficient solely because of a lack of English-speaking ability is contrary to best practice.  Any retention of an English Language Learner or a student who has exited language services must include consultation with the parents, ELA Teacher Leader, ELA Consultant, and Director of English Language Acquisition.


K-12 ELL Tier 1 Best Practices


Specific Note Regarding Students with Disabilities


Any retention for a Student with a Disability with an IEP must include consultation with the parents, IEP team, IEP case manager and ESS Consultant.


 Specific Note Regarding Students on READ Plans


While all students on READ plans will have an end of year conference to address their progress, retention should only be considered if the student’s plan has been reviewed by the school’s MTSS team, adjusted to meet the unique needs of the student, a series of intervention and progress-monitoring processes have been documented and the student is still not making adequate progress.  In such cases, the parent must be involved in the process and a meeting is to be scheduled to allow for a thorough decision making process.  Further details on this process are provided below.  


For more information regarding the READ act, please visit:  http://accountability.aurorak12.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/203/2013/08/July-2014-READ-Fact-Sheet-CDE.pdf


Retention Decision Making Process


Retention of students is an option for students grades K-8 who, after intensive (Tier 3) interventions as determined through the MTSS process, are performing significantly below established targets in at least two of the three content areas of reading, writing, and math with evidence of insufficient academic growth.  


Decisions to retain or promote should also include clear plans for ongoing intervention, progress monitoring, and refinement with the explicit goal of supporting the student to reach established performance targets.  


A student may only be considered for grade level retention if building MTSS team has assured and documented that the student:   

  • has received strong Tier 1 instruction
  • AND has received Tier 2 AND Tier 3 support aligned with a Root Cause Analysis
  • AND interventions have had time in place, typically 6-8 weeks for each iteration
  • AND is significantly behind in 2 or more areas:  reading, writing, and mathematics
    • OR is on a READ plan and still demonstrates a significant reading deficiency
  • AND is NOT on IEP or being considered for an IEP
  • AND (for ELL) has had sufficient, Embedded and Dedicated English language development (Tier 1) that allows time for language acquisition.  (Considerations for ELLs)
  • AND a Body of Evidence (BOE) has been collected that demonstrates appropriate interventions have been in place and suggests that retention may be the best possible means to serve the student.


If all of these issues hold, the MTSS team should proceed to the process below.    


Key Steps in MTSS Tier 3 Intervention Toward Potential Retention:


Retention Flow Chart 


Beginning early in the spring semester, building MTSS teams should review all students that might be considered for retention.  Parents should be involved in the MTSS process as soon as possible for any student that may be considered for retention.  


  1. January and February:  MTSS team and  teacher(s) engage MTSS intervention and monitoring process and, if Tier 3 retention process is a possibility, complete the Retention Referral Form in Enrich.  (Note:  This form simply starts the process.)  As with any Tier 2 or 3 intervention and monitoring process, parent participation is required.   
  2. February to April:  MTSS team secures a meeting or series of meetings with the student’s parent or legal guardian and the school principal to review the intervention and monitoring body of evidence and other relevant factors, including but not limited to:   
    1. Chronological age of student and maturity of student
    2. Language proficiency
    3. Whether or not the student has an IEP
    4. Attendance record/truancy
    5. Transiency
    6. Previous grade retention
  3. Mid-Late April:  The MTSS Team, parent and principals come to a consensus-based decision on the best course of action for the student.  If a recommendation for a  Tier 3 intervention of retention  is the result of  this process,  the Retention or Promotion Recommendation Signature form must be completed (Enrich).  This decision must be communicated to Learning Community Director by the end of the month of April.  
  4. If consensus between team participants, including the parent, has not been  reached, a meeting for mediation must be scheduled between the parent, principal, an MTSS team representative and the Learning Community Director.   The Learning Community Director will engage the team toward a consensus-based decision.  If the Learning Community Director fails to engage a consensus-based decision, the following next steps will occur:  
    1. For students on READ plans in grades K-2, the parent’s decision will be the  final decision (per READ Act statute).
    2. For all other students, the final decision will be made by the school principal
    3. If the parent/guardian disagrees with the decision of the school principal, the parent may choose to appeal the decision. The signed Retention or Promotion Recommendation Signature form found in Enrich must be submitted. The parent must be given a copy of this timeline which outlines the appeal process.  See below for additional details.  
  5. Once decision has been made...  
    1. Principal alerts Learning Community Director of each student being recommended for retention. For each student, the principal indicates whether or not consensus decision was made.  If consensus was not reached, follow up meeting with Learning Community Director is scheduled.  
    2. Learning Community Directors reviews the recommendations and documentation for each student being recommended for retention. For each student, the director indicates in the comment section that they have approved decision and whether or not consensus was reached with the parent.   
    3. Chief Academic Officer reviews the recommendations and documentation for each student the director has marked as ―retain. The CAO checks retain or promote in the outcome section at the end of the form. The CAO notifies the director of any changes (promotions) to the recommendations to retain and develops a plan for communication with the school and the parent.
  6. May:  
    1. School-based MTSS teams should finalize intervention plans for the following school year and make necessary arrangements to ensure that student receives the support outlined by the team.  
    2. Principal ensures that the Recommendation for Retention Form and Retention or Promotion Signature Form with CAO approval is placed in the student‘s cumulative file. Should the student move, this information must accompany the cumulative file.


Appeal Process


  • If the parent does not agree with the decision made by the school principal, the Learning Community Director will meet with the parent/guardian, the principal, teacher(s), and the MTSS team within 10 school days to review data from the teacher, the MTSS team, and the parent.  The Learning Community Director will either affirm the decision made by the principal or approve of the appeal request made by the parent.
  • If the parent disagrees with the decision made by the Learning Community Director in response the appeal request, the parent may apply for appeal of the Learning Community Director’s decision to the Chief Academic Officer.  This appeal must be made in writing within five school days of the decision that had been made by the Learning Community Director.
  • The Chief Academic Officer shall consider all documentation and will provide a final decision. This final decision will be communicated to the parent/guardian and to the principal within 30 days of receiving the appeal request.  


Parent Request for Retention


If a parent or guardian requests retention and the child is in the MTSS process, the team continues to follow that process. The decision to retain or promote should be a consensus decision between the parent / guardian, the principal, and the MTSS team.  


If a parent or guardian requests retention and the child is not in the MTSS process, that process is started immediately.  The MTSS team should collect all available  assessment data and collect additional performance information to provide the best possible academic profile for the student.  The team should then implement appropriate interventions to monitor the student’s response to intervention.  The decision to retain or promote should be a consensus decision between the parent / guardian, the principal, and the MTSS team.  


If the parent disagrees with the decision of the team, the parent may choose to appeal using the process outlined above.

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