Former Teacher Says It’s Time To Start Leaving Children Behind Who Do Not Perform At Grade Level — ‘Holding Kids Back Is The Answer’

“It’s not fair to the child. They will just fail again.”

Teacher helping an underperforming student in class. People Images Yuri A /

Former teacher Neurodivergent Nate shared his hot take on what he thinks is a major problem in public education today — kids who should be held back getting pushed forward into the next grade. 

He argued that the “No Child Left Behind Act” has districts more concerned with moving kids through the system rather than monitoring their actual performance and progress.

The former teacher argued more students should be ‘held back’ when they’re underperforming instead of being pushed into the next grade.

“So many people argue that holding kids back isn’t the answer,” Nate said. “Yes, yes, it is. If you cannot perform your grade level competencies, you should not be able to go to the next grade level.”


RELATED: Teacher Worries That ‘Average’ Students Are A Thing Of The Past — ‘Will This Be A Generation Of High Achievers & Basement Dwellers?’


“How are students literally not doing the work, and are gone for half the year, and still passing the class?” he said. “‘No Child Left Behind’ truly left thousands of children behind. We need to bring back keeping students behind who are not performing at their grade level.”

The 2001 “No Child Left Behind Act,” passed by former president George W. Bush, intended to set standards for children’s success in the classroom by holding schools accountable for their students' success. While the act had several benefits, most professionals deemed it disgraceful to true progress, including its unfortunate standardization of classroom curriculums and the discouragement of “holding kids back” over social consequences.

Nate said most underperforming children who are pushed forward before they are ready will never be able to catch up.

What’s truly missing from schools, at least according to many teachers and educational professionals, is not better systems for holding kids back but rather additional help in supporting struggling students. 

Often, academic struggle and failing grades are representative of something larger, whether it be a learning disability, personal struggles at home, or mental health battles.


Underperforming student doing homework at a desk. Ann in the UK /

RELATED: School Admin Struggles To Gain Control After 9th Graders Protest Against Taking The Algebra 1 State Exam

For example, the majority of U.S. states are experiencing a school counselor shortage, with the average counselor being responsible for more than 250 students


Overworked and understaffed, kids are undoubtedly falling through the cracks.

As these underperforming children fall through the cracks, larger institutional issues become more apparent — How can we truly support students’ success?

Discourse about institutional failures for struggling students expands far beyond holding kids back a grade — there’s an intertwined cycle in school districts, especially harmful to marginalized communities. 

Standardized testing, failing special education programs, limited funding, and even school lunch debt are just a few of the unaddressed issues impacting students' academic success and well-being.

To address academic success in students, a much larger conversation about their general well-being is necessary. Teachers, school administrators, and educational professionals need to be compensated and acknowledged for the work they do in classrooms — but also supported in bringing in additional help when necessary. 


No two students are alike in their educational journeys. If you’re a parent, a teacher, or even a student — reforming the education system is a beast to overcome, but starting small in your homes, classrooms, and day-to-day lives is where it starts.

RELATED: Teacher Feels ‘Pathetic’ For Having To Take A Half Day After His Students Misbehave — ‘I Couldn’t Stop Crying’

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.