NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

"Social Promotions" In Schools Are On The Way Out

February 21, 2001

Another failed educational theory is being abandoned. That is that Johnny should be promoted to the next grade even though he hasn't learned much in his present grade -- because not to do so might hurt his psyche.

The discredited practice hasn't been able to stand up to parents' demands that their children be educated, not warehoused. So concludes a study by Public Agenda and Education Week, "Reality Check 2001."

  • In a December survey, 41 percent of teachers said social promotion had decreased at their schools.
  • Some 37 percent of teachers said they are seeing an increase in summer-school enrollment, up from 28 percent four years ago.
  • Public Agenda president Deborah Wadsworth says that despite broad concern about a so-called backlash against standards and testing, the study "shows almost no desire to turn back the clock."
  • Forty-nine states have set academic standards in at least some subjects -- and all now test how well their students are learning.

But such efforts are reported to have become controversial in school districts where the majority of students either fail or post lackluster test results.

The report notes that while most parents believe high schools are giving students the skills they need to succeed, employers and college professors disagree.

Source: Tamara Henry, "Tougher Academic Standards Reduce Social Promotions," USA Today, February 21, 2001.


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