Essay on Educational Reform Going into our twenty-first century, we are finding more and more students graduating from high school not prepared to do college-level work or achieve sufficiently in entry-level jobs. The public business community is beginning to doubt whether or not public schools are capable of producing individuals who can become productive members of society. They ask the school systems how it is so many students can graduate with so few skills. One explanation is "social promotion"--that is, school systems' practice of promoting a student to the next grade level regardless of their academic ability.
Although social promotion may seem new to us today, it has a long history. Social promotion has been a function of educational institutions for decades. Promotion of an individual no matter what his academic success has long been a standard procedure. Schools cannot appear they are failing to educate their students so they do what ever it takes to promote the student to the next grade.
The do this even if there is strong evidence against them. For example, ?In Chicago alone more than 40,000 students failed standardized tests?..yet only a small fraction of students were marked for being held back? (American Federation of Teachers, 2001).
What Standards Do Districts Use To Make Decisions on Promotion or Retention? Some policies refer to the need for students to meet state standards. But a recent AFT analysis of state standards revealed that only 17 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have standards in all four core disciplines--English, mathematics, social studies, and science--that are well grounded in content and clear and specific enough to be used as a common guide (AFT, 1997). When Austin and McCann (1992) surveyed 144 districts to determine grading practices, standards and procedures, they learned that: Grading...