Social promotion

Accompanied by statistics that reveal how underprepared many students are when they are passed on to higher grade levels, St. Paul school district officials proposed last year to end the social promotion of its students. Defined as passing a student on to the next grade even though the student did not meet his or her current grade’s learning requirements, social promotion has been widely ignored by school districts throughout the United States, allowing ill-equipped students to fall behind and stay there.
But now it appears that district officials are straying from their original intentions and are weakening their resolve to educate all students before giving them a passing grade.
According to a district memo sent out last month, nearly 40 percent of the district’s students are not performing at grade level. Officials justifiably argue that if they held back all underachieving students, it would overwhelm the school system. This argument urged the district to keep at least some social promotion on a situational basis. By promoting this, the school’s decision seems to say that the knowledge students gain and the education they receive will not be the only measurement in deciding whether they move on to the next level. This is unfortunate, as this is the only way schools should be gauging student performance.
Although the district was wise to give teachers discretion on whether to hold a student back or not, it should not back away from social promotion’s end as an institutional practice. If the statistics indicates anything at all, it is that schools are failing miserably in educating students.