Each year thousands of children fail to acquire the skills necessary to experience success in the next grade. Some are retained to provide more time and opportunities to master needed concepts while others are socially promoted in the belief that retention may possibly do more harm then help. The question is which is more effective, grade retention or social promotion? There is information stating that neither is effective. The evidence against the two continues to mount as more states develop rigorous promotion and graduation standards. 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...
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