Term Paper: Social Promotion There Are Concerns

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[. . .] " In addition, the following social and cultural assumptions are recognized as potential influences on school failure and subsequent social promotion (Deschenes, Cuban, and Tyack 535-539):

Students who perform poorly in school have character defects or are responsible for their own performance: Some common methods to eliminate social promotion include summer school and remedial programs, but these techniques clearly place the responsibility on the student's shoulders

Families from certain cultural backgrounds prepare children poorly for school and provide little support for achievement as they pass through each grade: Families are an essential factor in school achievement, and support may make all the difference in acquiring fundamental skills and knowledge from grade to grade.

Structures of school systems are insufficiently differentiated to fit the variety of intellectual abilities that exist within the student body: This theory indicates that those who are not considered "normal" are destined to fail in standard school systems.

Children often fail academically because their school culture is so different from the cultural backgrounds of the communities that they serve: This concept places the responsibility for student achievement solely on schools and does not consider that it is virtually impossible to evaluate all cultural backgrounds that may exist within a given school.

Many assumptions exist regarding the reasons behind social promotion, but no one cause can be attributed to the growth of the problem in today's schools.

It has been demonstrated that teacher expertise is one of the most important factors that influences academic achievement. According to Darling-Hammond (49), "Students who have highly effective teachers three years in a row score as much as 50 percentile points higher on achievement tests than those who have ineffective teachers three years in a row...school districts should make every effort to hire well-prepared teachers who understand content, teaching methods, and learning; provide novices with expert mentors; and provide systematic supports for ongoing professional development." Teachers are required to accommodate the needs of a wide variety of students, and as a result, their expertise must be vast and widespread in a number of areas. One of the keys to eliminating social promotion is to employ teachers that promote personal achievement and recognition in their students through intensive instruction and problem detection in the early stages of development.

In schools located in disadvantaged areas, the development of the following essential characteristics has resulted in a number of significant achievements (www.aft.org):

clear academic focus and rigorous curriculum that can be tailored to students' specific needs safe and orderly environment that promotes well being

Small class sizes to promote individualized instruction

Instructional strategies that maximize time on task and allow students to understand the necessity of the steps involved in completing tasks

Frequent monitoring of individual performance by dedicated teachers

Extensive staff development and training in support of the school program

Success of such programs is measured in terms of student achievement, and in many instances, success is not guaranteed. Significant effort must be made by school administrators, teachers, parents, and students to ensure program success.

Many critics argue that social promotion is very frustrating for promoted students since they are placed in grades where they do not possess the capability to successfully complete the assigned work. In addition, students are given the impression that they can slide through their coursework without putting forth any real effort, teachers are forced to manage the problems of the unprepared while simultaneously teaching those who are prepared, parents are given a false sense of hope regarding their children's progress, employers are led to believe that diplomas are worthless, and places poorly educated students into a complex society where they are unprepared to perform effectively (http://npin.org).As a result, children suffer from poor self-esteem and anxiety regarding their academic performance, and this can dramatically affect their futures.

Some studies indicate that summer school is a key factor in ending social promotion. Some recommendations include the implementation of summer school for all students who struggle in their coursework. According to the publication Pro-Principal, "Nobody really knows much about what happens in summer school because most states collect little or no information about it, and few provide meaningful guidance on how summer programs should operate" (11). Unfortunately, if standards regarding summer school are not in place, requiring all failing students to enter summer school programs is a difficult task to accomplish. A consensus must be reached regarding the effectiveness and universal requirement for summer school attendance throughout all fifty states in order for the program to be effective.

The development of a set of clear, established standards is one key to ensuring that students are well-prepared for the next grade. According to the Westchester Institute for Human Services Research (3), "In many districts, student progress is judged according to vague criteria, making it difficult for staff to reach sound decisions about student promotion. Without explicit grade-by-grade standards, however, anything goes and anything can be accepted - even poor work. Uniform standards that define expectations for success provide an external check on the teaching and learning process. They give educators a reliable, rather than arbitrary, basis for decisions about student progression." In addition, "We have state content standards, state tests and benchmarks, data-driven decision-making and rewards and sanctions for demonstrated performance" (Parker 2). Standards that are established must also be attainable by students with a reasonable amount of effort, and when problems are encountered, they must be evaluated and assistance must be provided as quickly as possible to avoid exacerbation of the problem.

Social promotion can also be inflated by the importance of social acceptance in the middle school grades. Some students, even at such an early age, experience social anxiety and the fear of social situations, which may strongly influence their academic performance. They may experience feelings of isolation and discomfort in situations with other students and even teachers (Strahan 347). As a result, their academic skills may be limited by their fears. Furthermore, although these students may not be prepared to pass onto the next grade, they may be promoted, regardless of their emotional and academic stability. This may present long-lasting effects on the student in the long-term, as they fall further and further behind as they progress into high school. Another factor that influences socialization is the home environment. According to Ferguson, Jimerson, and Dalton (329), "The best clinical predictors of social maladjustment in children are home socialization factors...early social competencies themselves may be transformed into academic, school-based competencies such as literacy and other positive educational outcomes."

Finally, McCoy and Reynolds (293) state that "The transition to adolescence may alter personal perceptions of competence among low-achieving children." This research demonstrates that social skills have a profound impact on academic performance as well as social promotion.

The literature reviewed and discussed in this paper provides a thorough background into the problems and effects of social promotion on middle school students. The next section will provide an overview of the methods and procedures that will be implemented to evaluate the effects of social promotion on a defined sample population.

Methods and Procedures

The research study will examine the effects of social promotion on a defined study sample of 50 middle school teachers, 25 administrators, and 50 parents with middle school children to identify and evaluate the perceptions surrounding social promotion in five middle schools in the South Bend Community School Corporation. This small sampling is likely to provide a variety of responses to the problems and opinions related to social promotion in middle schools.

Selection of Participants

This study is designed to capture a diverse population that is directly related to middle school students in the South Bend area. As a result, it was determined that capturing the results of administrators, middle school teachers, and parents of middle school students will provide a number of analyses and perceptions regarding the practice of student promotion. In order to keep the study as manageable as possible, it has been determined that using a population of 150 will provide enough information to make an accurate analysis. Furthermore, by dividing the participants between administrators, teachers, and parents, many perceptions of social promotion will be acknowledged and considered in evaluating the data and identifying the results.

Survey Instrument

This study will utilize surveys as the instrument that will best capture the intended outcomes. Identical surveys will be distributed to teachers, administrators, and parents through various mailings with a deadline for submission of responses through the use of a self-addressed, stamped envelope, provided with the initial mailing. A random selection of teachers, administrators, and parents will be conducted to maintain impartiality in the study.

Data Collection Procedure

Once all survey responses have been received, the researcher will thoroughly evaluate the responses and identify common beliefs and perceptions as well as diverse responses. These reactions will then be tabulated into a format that is simple to read and comprehend.


The balanced view: social promotion & retention.

Westchester Institute for Human Services Research, http://www.sharingsuccess.org/code/bv/socprom.html… [END OF PREVIEW]

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