Grade Level Placement for Refugee Students: Determining Appropriate Placement

Suzanne Fitzpatrick


As a university student and teacher in Toronto I studied, lived, worked with and taught refugees from almost all over the world. In the mid-1990s I had a pivotal conversation with a colleague who confided, “I lost my surname and aged five years,” when he entered Canada as a university student in the late 1960s from South Asia. Upon returning to my hometown I have worked as a Literacy Enrichment and Academic Readiness for Newcomers (LEARN) teacher in St. John’s. Since then, I have realized that, like the case of my colleague, errors may exist on refugees’ documentation for various reasons. In this discussion, I will explore the context, challenges, and felt experiences of grade level placements for refugee children through integrating my personal experience as a teacher, experiences of diverse newcomers to St. John’s, and international literature.

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