In this essay I am going to provide detailed information regarding social promotion in NYC. The idea of social promotion was initially introduced in NYC in the beginning of 1980s. The program looks alike to the one proposed by Klein and Bloomberg not long ago. Though, 20 years ago it was called “Promotional Gates Program” and obligated students of the third and seventh grade to pass English reading test and math test before they are accepted to the upper grade. They were also proposed to study at summer schools if they fail the test and retake it at the end of August.
Only if they fail this test for the second time, they will be turned back to the same grade again. The novelty of Mayor’s initiative concludes in that, that if the third-graders fail the reading and math test (will not pass level 3, where 4th level is considered to be the highest) - they will be offered another chance to take it but previously attend the summer school. The trick and the topic for the continuing discussions of educators is in that, that the passing level for the second test attempt - is level 2 (the rest of scenario of social promotion is invariable - if students fail this level, they are to repeat third grade again).
Some argue that this method will provide weak students the understanding that their flabby achievements will be tolerated, and therefore these students are left with each year behind their progressing classmates. But the Chancellor Joe Klein notes, that "No one wants to hold students behind. So large numbers of students are promoted even though those students are not prepared for the next grade. The result is that many students are passed through the system from one grade to another without the necessary preparation and skills.
These students typically fall further and further behind until they ultimately leave school unprepared. " [#1, p. 4] Now it becomes more understandable, why these changes raised number of accusations from the side of educators and have opponents as well. New Mayor’s approach is retrieved towards summer schools as well: those will be available for the students who are not only third graders but also second graders and who demonstrate poor results and attendance during that grade.
The class size is decreased to the quantity of the small group and will account approximately 15 students in each. As to me, this point of the program is very commendable and worth of appropriate attention. Of course, the other question which is usually discussed when the program is either implemented or maintained - is its budgeting. Our case is not an exception. It is worth saying that budget of NYC is to cover these expenses and the size of this burden accounts $25 million (this number is an approximate, but the real one could be much higher).
Therefore in order to deal with it, some high school principals in NYC has diverted the funds from the high school students toward the third grade program. Joe Mathew is supporting this idea as well and expresses his thought in the following way “Money spent on an extra year of schooling for retained students would be better spent on preventing low achievement”. [#2, p. 4] According to the statistical data, because of social promotion program, 25% of all ninth grade students in NYC public schools are over-aged for their class. #1, p. 4] This number brings to the conclusion, that these students most probably were detained once during there school time. In some schools also exists “unwritten policy of teachers and principals” which is aimed to minimize withholding of a weak students to the lowest quantity of years as it is possible. My opinion is, that when improving social promotion programs in NYC public schools, the attention should be paid to the identification of the “risk” students or “risk” groups and work with them before it is too late.
I think that it would be also more appropriate to aim these costs to the development of suchlike programs as preschool, improvement of the school in general and additional attention for the low-motivated students or the one who are behind the program. But, for myself I brought up the question for further discussion: is social promotion the result of school miscarriage or is it the sign of greater number of problems which school may face in a near future?