Social promotion is the practice of promoting students to the next grade level even though they have not acquired minimum competencies expected for that grade (Aldridge, 135). The number of students socially promoted each year is unknown because few school districts report these data and other districts have only limited data. Some reasons that students are social promoted are: failure rates would reflect badly on the school and school personnel, pressure created by principals and parents, and knowledge that retention is ineffective (Aldridge, 136). Social promotion gives many students the false sense that they have mastered skills necessary for later success in upper level grades. It also sends a message to other students that their effort and achievements do not count. Teachers must plan for and teach to a group of children with widely opposing skills and knowledge. Some teachers may become frustrated and feel powerless to expect hard work from students. Social promotion also sends parents a false message that their children are adequately prepared to be successful in schools and in the labor force.
Social promotion is usually studied and discussed in comparison to its opposite: grade retention. A grade retention policy calls for requiring students who have failed to achieve adequately to repeat their current grade the following year, instead of moving on to the next grade (Aldridge, 138). This policy is motivated by the
Cited: Aldridge, Jerry. Current Issues and Trends in Education. Second Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc, 2007. Hennis, Greg. “Is Social Promotion the Right Choice?” April 26, 2010. Stump, Colleen. “Repeating a Grade: The Pros and Cons.” Working with the School. February 02, 2009. April 26, 2010.