Social Promotion Returns To NYC Schools
Social promotion, the policy whereby students are promoted to the next grade without demonstrating proficiency in literacy and math, was gradually eliminated by the city from 2004 to 2010. Less than two years later, it is back.
The Panel for Educational Policy (PEP), on recommendation from the Department of Education, approved amendments to Chancellor’s Regulation A-501 at its meeting on July 18. The regulation sets forth promotion standards for all students in New York City public schools in grades three through 12. Effective this month, students in grades three through eight are eligible for promotion this September, even with failing scores on the state English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams if they are more than two years older than their peers or repeat a grade more than once. Multiple grade retentions “can be detrimental for students”, according to a letter sent to principals from New York City Department of Education Senior Deputy Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky in June.
While results of the 2012 state ELA and math tests for grades three through eight, also released on July 18, remain the prime promotion standard, principals can recommend promotion for overage and previously retained students, particularly English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities, based on demonstrated gains on “multiple measures of student performance”.
Progress for promotion must be demonstrated in at least two performance areas that include state tests, city assessments and student work. Currently, about 900 students in grades three through eight have repeated the same grade for two years and the DOE estimates half will be eligible for promotion under the new standard.
English Language Learners will be promoted according to the number of years they have been enrolled in a school located in the United States. Students in grades three through seven who have been enrolled in such a school for at least two years but fewer than six and are able to meet the English language requirement by scoring a Level 2 on the ELA exam are eligible for promotion. The same standard applies to ELL students in grade eight who have been enrolled in a school in the United States for at least two years but fewer than four.
Although the city netted gains on both the ELA and math tests this year of three percent and 2.7 percent, respectively, literacy remains a problem. Less than half (43.9 percent) of students citywide in grades three through eight meet literacy standards and only 11.6 percent of English Language Learners (ELL) do so. In math, 60 percent of students citywide met the state standard, but just 37 percent of ELL students did.