Social Promotion

Most children are taught since the beginning of their educational careers that they must do well, and succeed if they wish to be acknowledged. There was always a black sheep, some boy or girl, who did not do their work and was held back. Consequently, these children were used as horrifying examples of what could happen. However, was the child really at fault for failing to complete grade requirements, or was the system in which they were taught in error? The evidence available demonstrates that children who were retained were not unintelligent, but that education policies were to blame. Although the human race has gone through stupendous scientific awakenings, it is suprising to see that the education policies practiced today are based on the reasonings of a dead age. It is certainly not because Americans do not value their children?s educations but perhaps because we live in a country that is not always aware of significant aspects of our society, particularly education. Social promotion, in use nationally for at least 20 years , is an educational policy where students are advanced from grade to grade. There is no regard to their learning because it is a widely accepted notion that they learn better with their peers. "Studies show that it?s better to promote an underachiever than keep them down," stated Peg Dawson from the National Association of School Psychologists. Yet, high profile protesters of this system include both United States President Bill Clinton and The American Federation of Teachers. In many cases, children are advanced repeatedly without knowing basic educational skills, and suffer greatly when in high school. Social promotion, used throughout the course of the American educational system as a standard policy, is archaic, and should be altered to address individual student needs, helping to create a future conscientious and prosperous society.

The other frequently used option, retention of a student, has also displayed several negative characteristics and is not a likely alternative. Drop-out rates for grade repeaters are generally higher than most students and they often display greater behavioral problems, due largely to the fact that they are older than their classmates. A qualitative comparison is that while only 20.4% of students not delayed were not enrolled in a 4-year college, 54.7% of delayed students were not enrolled in a 4-year college. More than double are not enrolled. The ratio of delayed to non-delayed students with Bachelors Degree?s is 1.7: 9.5 . This is certainly an unacceptable side effect of retention. These students? educational lives were drastically affected by their retention.

The ills of these former policies are cleansed in a proposed new system. In this system, the promotion standards for grades are raised in order to insure that the students have learned all that is necessary to succeed in the next grade. Most often, students are retained when they do not pass promotion criteria at the end of first, sixth or seventh, and ninth grade. Student promotions are based on two major tests: performance on district wide math-assessment tests, and on their performance on reading-assessments. The reading tests are divided among grade levels: children in grades 5-11 must pass the Stanford Diagnostic Reading Test while students in grades K-4 must perform well on the Developmental Reading Assessment Test.

Students who fail to pass required tests under this new system must attend summer school. These students are given an opportunity to retake their tests and be promoted. Students who fail to pass their tests again are placed in accelerated study programs in an attempt to catch them up with their peers. These programs involve increased focus on reading and math, and extended learning time each day. Their school year is also lengthened to 11 months.

Located in Washington state, Lake Washington International school enforces the new social promotion system of grade required tests and their state assessment results are excellent, compared to the Washington state average. In the reading assessment test, Lake Washington?s average score was 89, compared to the state average of 41. The state average in math, 24, compares badly to Lake Washington?s math score of 84, and the state average of 37 does not compare well at all to the school?s writing score of 81. It is very difficult not to see that this new system of social promotion is working to the benefit of the students.

The New