Our society is being forced to deal with uneducated, illiterate high school graduates. You may ask how is a high school graduate so ill prepared for the world. Have you ever been to a store where a young person, maybe a high school student is the sales associate and the register shuts down right before you receive your change? Did you notice the look of panic on their face because they were not sure how much change you were supposed to receive? It is because of the national crisis, social promotion that can be accredited to this dependency on everything except their educated brain’s. We as educated people must help find a way to save our children from wasting their academic careers due to social promotion. Truly embracing the idea that all children can learn and making sure that all children do, requires that we all take responsibility for ending social promotion. (www.ed.gov) If we accept and aim to prove that all people are capable of learning life’s basic necessities we will start breaking down the wall of stupidity social promotion has built.
Social promotion, the national crisis, is the promotion of students to the next grade level without mastery of their current curriculum. (www.ncrel.org) More than half of teachers surveyed in a recent poll stated that they had promoted unprepared students in the last school year, often because they see no alternative. (www.ed.gov) If a teacher sees no option for a student other than failing or socially promoting them, the teacher generally promotes them, because it goes over easier with in society and authority. This is essentially depleting the educational standards of our country. Standards are lowered as students are continually cheated of the material necessary to independently survive in the real world.
The realization that I was cheated by social promotion finally came about my senior year of high school. As far back as I can remember I have had problems with math, but I passed every year up until I met Coach Taylor. He was a nonconformist in nearly every sense of the word. He definitely did not jump on the bandwagon of socially promoting students. I learned the hard way about the true aftermath of social promotion that year. I was held accountable for things I didn’t know. Therefore, I was fairly distraught to discover I wouldn’t be graduating with all my friends. I’d be alone in summer school and when I received my diploma in the mail. Not only was I cheated of skills, I was cheated of the excitement and memories of walking across the stage as everyone applauded. I now am still suffering for my undeserved promotion as I take remedial high school math in college.
Students are not the only victims of social promotion. Schools, teachers and businesses are also indirectly cheated by this national crisis. Students who are below level because of social promotion lack the ability to perform menial daily tasks. 340,000 high school graduates a year do not have enough knowledge to balance a checkbook or write a letter to a credit card company regarding a billing error. (www.ed.gov) Social promotion sends a message to students that little is expected from them, that they have little worth, and that they do not warrant the time and effort it would take to help them be successful in school. (www.ed.gov) One third of students being below the basic level of proficiency (www.ed.gov) forces teachers to cheat the on level students of new material. Teachers must re-teach old lessons or skip over portions of current lesson plans because some students don’t know or weren’t exposed to the necessary material to comprehend new lessons. When teachers re-teach because they care about the students’ successful education, it creates a repetitive cycle of social promotion. This cycle is put into motion because the current teacher has not met their original lesson plans. The student is again unprepared for the next grade level. Due to unprepared students, schools rank low on standardized tests, which creates a bad reputation nationally. Parents looking into schools for their children don’t want to purposely send their child to a low ranking school. Businesses lack confidence in an applicant holding only a high school diploma as proof of requisite skills. (www.ed.gov) Large sums of money must be allotted to remedial training courses for workers of the socially promoted generation.
There are many suggested ways to end social promotion according to and executive summary found at www.ed.gov. The setup of curriculum and testing should be changed to be more firm and less biased. Extensive progress reporting as a communication tool between students, teachers and parents should also be mandated on a regular basis. A pop national test should be given for the next several years to possiblly clean the system (school) of the socially promoted generation. Without preparation for this test, we can more accurately determine the level or skill group of a student. Results of tests could place the student in the appropriate multiage looping skill group (MALSG). MALSG is a concept that I have made up with the help of two individual proposals various age groups and looping. MALSG combines students of various ages with similar weaknesses and strengths with the concept of looping – keeping the students and teachers together for an extended number of years. The curriculum should be determined the year before for the multiage looping skill groups. The curriculum can then be submitted to a testing company so that tests can be made based entirely on that curriculum. (Jessness p266) This would require the teacher to meet the curriculum or experience mass failure of the MALSG. Perhaps the mass failure would be an indication that the teacher is not meeting his or her objectives. Teachers would not be allowed to view the tests until the actual testing date, reducing the possibility of a teacher unethically influencing the results of the examination. After the tests are administered, they should be sent back to the testing company for grading. Schools should not be provided with an answer key to avoid the possibility or temptation to socially promote.
Skill groups that have successfully mastered all curriculum requirements should take a comprehensive test in order to graduate. This test should include material from the lowest level to the highest level of skill groups. The tests would free teachers from the pressure to adjust the content of their courses and would assure students and their parents that the standard for each course is fixed, not floating. If Hamlet is tested, then Hamlet, not popsicle-stick or macaroni art will be taught. (Jessness p.26)
Another end to the national crisis would be the implementation of an extensive progress reporting system. The first report of the system is students writing their own mandatory personal progress report each week. Concentrating on two areas at a time would give a more targeted look at the student’s needs. This report would include two primary weaknesses the student currently notices. Additionally, the student should identify two other areas where they feel they could use improvement. They should also list any strengths or areas for which they feel special recognition is warranted. Students should also include suggestions or ideas for improvement, which the teachers would evaluate. Teachers should attempt to implement the suggestions, where practical, in an effort to create more personalization within the multiage looping skills group. A monthly report for parents with a return signature upon receipt letter is the second type of report within the system. These reports would increase parental awareness and involvement. The reports would include a listing of the month’s test and quiz scores, personal student goals set for the following month, as well as the goals accomplished in the prior month. A complete listing of class objectives for the upcoming month would also be included. This list would show parents what is expected of their child regarding assignments, readings, and tests or quizzes before they fall behind in class. This report would be mailed home with instructions for the parent to sign a form or telephone the school indicating receipt of the report.
Americans want quality education, but when lower grades and high failure rates reach their own children’s classes, they rebel and schools relent. Americans hate public education because standards are low but love their local schools because their children perform so well there. (Jessness p.265) The national crisis of social promotion is the only reason ignorant and ill-prepared students are making good grades and performing so well in their local schools. It is time to put an end to the fairy tale social promotion briefly creates. We all must realize this change in our schools is only for the better. If we change our school system we will save the country from experiencing possibly the worst national crisis ever; accepted and self inflicted stupidity.