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The research on social promotion and grade retention is clear: retaining a student for another year does not substantively improve their academic performance, and is a key factor in the rising rates of dropouts. Whena child is retained, they are much more likely to dropout. The research on this is crystal clear.
Alternatively, however, we cannot simply promote kids to the next grade without providing them with substantial help, including, but not limited to, tutoring, counseling, summer sessions, and other remedial support.
Obviously these kids need the extra help, and schools need to provide it, But we need to recognize that retaining kids is neither a positive nor successful solution.
I truly agree with not passing the children, but providing them assistance and additional training.
Every human deserves the opportunity to learn, over and over again. They need to learn the fullest meaning of what the affairs of life are all about.
Putting a time frame based on grades, degrees and educational promotion as a whole seem to be good rules to follow.
However, try to put yourself in the other fellow's
I agree wholeheartedly with this person's perspective. It is particularly important to note that students of color are disproportionately held back. Until we can better deal with neutralizing institutional racism, there is no justification for the results of the retention. In my teaching experience (14 years), the only student who was held back and who was successful was a caucasian student. None of the others (who were students of color in our multicultural district) had increased success - either academic or social - as a result of the retention. The statistics are telling. Retention does not work.
Social promotion does not work. It is the elephant in the living room no one will talk about. Imagine what it must be like to sit in a room daily and know that you don't know what is necessary to succeed there. You also know that every other child in the room knows this too. The only ones who don't seem to know are the adults in your life. What kind of message does that send? How can a child ask for help when the respected authority figures appear not to see the problem?
The true problem is society's perception of retention, not the process itself. If all the adults in the retention situation are supportive and positive, it transfers to the individual child being retained as well as classmates--especially if retention is done in the early years. Children will accept that some people need more practice than others. I have retained kindergarten students when necessary despite some administrators discomfort with this. My principal and my superintendent trust my judgment on this. So do the parents. I have followed up every retained child over the years. Some children go on to be highly successful, others struggle, but no parent who made the decision has ever felt that retaining in kindergarten was the wrong choice for their child. Several parents who decided to move their child on have said it was a mistake and some of them have repeated in the older grades (a harder transition. Each year I have former classroom parents call me to offer to talk to any parent whose child I am thinking of retaining. Parent-to-parent talks are important when considering retaining a child.
I also recommend having the child repeat in my classroom. Some parents worry that the child will be "bored" having the same curriculum from the same teacher. I counter that it is that same routine and expectations that will allow the child to feel confident to become a leader with the new less-experienced students. As a teacher, I can take that student on from where he/she is, because I know what he/she knows and needs to know. Most repeat kindergartners are delighted when they remember something familiar and enjoy helping others with the familiar routines. Most proudly tell others in time that they were "in this class last year, so I know..."
As I have often said, ask your child. What child would say no to an extra year of kindergarten with that all-important Choice Time? Even a kindergartner is aware when he/she can't do much of what the others can. Everyone understands that not all children have the same level of ability at the same point in time, but when a child is significantly lacking, that child usually knows. It is important to face the problem directly and support that appropriate development does not follow an age-specific timeline. No child is deficient, just developing at their own pace. Allow them the best environment for that development to take place. Don't overlay it with unnecessary societal stigma.
Unlike most of American institutions, schools are legally allowed to discriminate on the basis of age. If promotion were based on readiness, rather than age, getting help to the students who need help and challenge to the students who need challenge would become a matter of routine rather than a stigma.
I don't know where the line is drawn between a student's failure to learn from that teacher and a teacher's failure to teach that student. Your question reflects the reality, however: either way, it's the student who pays.
No students should not be promoted if they don't have the skills. This is the problem with our current system. Instead of grade level systems based on age promotion should be based on skills. I am not suggesting having 7 year old with 12 year olds in the same class age range/skills groups could be created. Summer school, tutoring programs, etc. I have taught them all. Most of the time it is not a matter of learning the skills needed, usually if a student attends then they get passed. And skills need to be measured by a more comprehensive means - not the reliance on one test. By promoting without having the skills we are setting students up for failure so either way social promotion or retention we are setting students up for failure.
Research shows that if a child is kept behind for a year, he or she has about a fifty percent greater chance of dropping out before graduation. Is this really what our goal is? And in reality, is the art of testing actaully well enough developed that we are going to gamble on this? I would rather see a student come close, and be rewarded, than not be able to find a decent job. They are already being shipped overseas by this lame, short-sighted administation as quickly as they can do it.
Do adults in the workforce get promotions which they have not earned? While there are some exceptions, the general rule is that one is not promoted until one can prove that he/she has the qualifications to do the job. Why should we use the educational system to teach students for 13 years that they will get promoted even if they can't do the work, only to have them slapped in the face by reality when they are adults? Students all know who is capable of doing grade-level work and who is not. They can tell you what their district policy on retention is and who cannot be retained again according to that policy. Is it really in those students' best interest to pass them and have repeat that struggle every year? If they know they must achieve to pass, they will usually work to do so.
By the time they are in sixth grade, if they are not reading and doing math at grade level, it is highly unlikely that they will ever catch up. Because they are tired of struggling with work they cannot do, they then become part of the dropout statistics when they are old enough. Do I believe in remediation? Of course, I do. But when extra help and summer school haven't helped students reach grade level, those students need another chance to learn the curriculum that they have not mastered.
Furthermore, when students who have not really learned the standard course of study which is considered the minimum for high school graduation enter the workforce, their deficiencies become glaringly obvious to their employers and coworkers. Their conclusion is that, if this is the sort of graduates that school produces, it must not be a very good school. The integrity of the entire educational system is a stake.