Remedial instruction can help struggling learners shore up their basic skills. This extra support can help them catch up to their peers. And sometimes, it eliminates the need for referral to special education. Learn how remedial programs work and how to spot an effective program.
What Are Remedial Programs?
Remedial programs are designed to close the gap between what a student knows and what he’s expected to know. They often target reading or math skills. In many cases, students are removed from their regular classroom and taught in another setting.
Many students require extra help. For example, only 35 percent of fourth graders are proficient readers (reading at grade level), according to the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress.
There’s a lot of concern about the reading proficiency gap. At least 15 states and the District of Columbia have policies that require schools to make sure third graders reach certain reading benchmarks or be held back. Some states use remedial programs to close the gap. Others are changing how reading is taught, starting with preschoolers.
What to Look For in a Remedial Program
When evaluating remedial programs for your child, be aware that not all programs are effective. Solid remedial programs:
- Are research-based, using proven teaching methods
- Teach step-by-step without skipping over content
- Are conducted at the student’s pace
- Offer regular reviews and practice exercises to reinforce learning and practice applying new knowledge
- Include a way to assess what the student has learned and whether he’s ready to move ahead
An effective remedial program is taught by a professional teacher with special training. This is important for all kids, including those with learning and attention issues. Be sure to ask the school if your child’s remedial program teacher has this training.
What to Watch Out For
For best results, avoid remedial programs that teach your child the material in the same way he was taught the first time around. That will likely just frustrate him. Also avoid programs that allow too many kids in the group. The idea is for your child to get more individual attention than is possible in a large class.
Exploring Other Strategies and Services
If your child has a learning disability and an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or 504 plan, you might ask about the possibility of extended school year (ESY) services for your child. Remedial instruction could be part of that service.
If your child doesn’t have an IEP, ask the teacher about educational strategies that can minimize or eliminate the need for remedial programs in your child’s future. You might still consider having your child evaluated to find out if he has learning and attention issues. In the meantime, a remedial program may be just what he needs to start building his skills and knowledge.