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Many Held-Back Children Miss Special Education Services

Last Updated: June 04, 2009.

Most children held back in their early grade school years for academic reasons don't receive an Individualized Education Program -- associated with special education services -- in subsequent years, according to research published in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

THURSDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) -- Most children held back in their early grade school years for academic reasons don't receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP) -- associated with special education services -- in subsequent years, according to research published in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Michael Silverstein, M.D., of the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues analyzed data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort on 300 children retained in kindergarten or first grade and 80 retained in third grade, presumably for academic reasons. An IEP is created after a child is evaluated, and may indicate services including language therapy or placement in a special education class.

The researchers found that 68.9 percent of the children retained at the earlier stage never received an IEP during grade school, and 72.3 percent of children retained in third grade didn't receive one. Children retained in kindergarten/first grade who were in the highest socioeconomic quintile were less likely to receive an IEP than other children, and so were suburban compared to rural children.

"We believe these data provide pediatricians with useful information to inform their practice because health care providers cannot assume local school districts are doing everything in their power to help children who are failing academically. Rather, knowing that a child has been retained may prompt health care providers to help families obtain IEP evaluations and, if possible, help them interpret the results," the authors write.

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