Promotion Commotion

Monday, April 12, 2004 - 02:26 PM

Using a number 2 pencil, mark the answer that most reflects reality:

1.Social Promotion harms kids by not holding them accountable.
2.Leaving kids back harms kids by making them feel old and useless.

Well, if studies of Chicago’s end to social promotion are any indication, the correct answer is both A and B above. In other words, the whole social promotion debate is a red herring! The real answer is to provide failing kids the intensive help they need to get them up to grade level, whether you hold them back or not. Also, that third grade is too late to identify those kids.

New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein says he gets it, but for now, his focus is on leaving lots of third graders back this year to make the point of no more business as usual. The real test will come next year, when we see how many of the left back kids pass the tests then…. And whether the small class sizes and early intervention programs he promises actually materialize.


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