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Social Promotion and Grade Retention
Transcript of Social Promotion and Grade Retention
What is Grade Retention? Background Information US System Bulgarian System The Issues Facts and Figures Bulgaria What's the answer? the practice of promoting a student to the next grade at the end of the current school year, regardless of whether they learned the necessary requirements, in order to keep them with their peers by age, that being the intended social grouping. the process of having a student repeat an educational year after failing to meet the established criteria for progression. How does it affect the classroom? How does it affect individual students? I am a currently serving U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer living and working in Bulgaria as a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) instructor. I have also worked as a history teacher in various states throughout the U.S., in a variety of school and socioeconomic settings. My own schooling started in a one-room schoolhouse, continued through both parochial and public schools, and has now led me to this online course (what an incredibly fast changing world, right?)
I chose this topic as I see firsthand the detrimental affects of social promotion on the Bulgarian education system, and consequently, the general public as a whole. I designed this presentation to raise questions concerning the practice of both social promotion and grade retention, in both the USA and Bulgaria, in order to better understand how each country compares in terms of their respective education systems. But at the core, I want to better understand how each method affects both countries and the individuals members of each ever-evolving culture, and to ultimately identify alternatives to both practices. What does it teach students about the value of education? How does it affect society? How does it affect the school?
Is it effective? contributes to alienation
creates classroom discipline problems
increases school spending
shows little sign of effectiveness loss of funding
tarnishes school reputation
results in the closing of schools
results in teacher layoffs Impacts of Grade Retention USA Bulgaria increases dropout rate increases negative attitude towards school Each year, 15-19% of U.S. students are retained and as many as 50 percent of students in large urban areas are retained at least once before they graduate or drop out of school (Starr, 2006). According to an international studied completed by the OECD covering 41 different countries, at 15 years old, Bulgarians students were in 33rd place in literacy and at 33rd place in mathematical skills, ahead only of countries such as Indonesia, Albania and Peru (Petrova, 2003). 38% of employers in Bulgaria thought that the education system provided youth with the skills they were looking for (Dainov). In Bulgaria, according to a recent amendment to the National Education Law, in 2009, a pupil may not repeat grades 1-4. (Bulgarian Eurydice Unit, 2011). Criteria governing grade retention at lower secondary level in Bulgaria relies on subject results (marks) exclusively (Bulgarian Eurydice Unit, 2011). An estimated 5.3% of Bulgarian students are retained at lower secondary level. (Bulgarian Eurydice Unit, 2011). Nearly three million students are retained in the U.S. each year (Stapleton, Robles-Pina, n.d.). 10% of U.S. students in K-12th grade previously experienced retention. Additionally, ethnic minorities are affected even more with retention rates of 17% for African Americans and 11% for Hispanics (Stapleton and Robles-Pina, n.d.). 20.65% of U.S. students were retained once in K-8th grade and 69.18% of those students dropped out of high school. The dropout rates for students who had never been retained were only 27.39% (Stapleton and Robles-Pina, n.d.). Retained students are not only a strain on school funding, they are a potential strain on the U.S. economy as such students are more likely to become school dropouts. School dropouts are more likely to depend on government assistance, more likely to be unemployed, 8 times more likely to be incarcerated, and show a significant loss in tax revenue (Stapleton, Robles-Pina, n.d.). Contents Background Information Definitions The Main Issues Facts & Figures Affects & Outcomes The Bigger Picture What is the answer? References A personal note The U.S. education system has been moving more and more towards standardized testing as the main criteria for student progression from one grade to the next. NCLB Act of 2001 was the first step in this process nationally, and states have since been developing procedures to standardize curriculum. In turn, the practice of social promotion has become less and less the outcome, although it's difficult to know exactly how many students progress through the practice of social promotion as most cases are addressed on an individual level. And frankly, most schools don't like to admit to practicing social promotion.
The alternative to social promotion is retention, and this practice hasn't been proven to be all that effective in addressing the overlying issue; students aren't meeting the developed standards, and retention by itself has just as many negative components as social retention. Bulgaria is also moving towards standardized testing, albeit at a lot slower pace. Bulgarian students are assessed nationally at the end of grades 4, 7, and 12. None of their results have any affect on progression to the next grade. However, there are vocational schools who utilize the national assessment scores for enrollment criteria, and universities look closely at the results of the 12th grade assessment (all Bulgarian 12th graders are tested in Bulgarian Language/Literature and a second test of their choosing).
Bulgarian schools use subject grades as a criteria for progression. These marks are subjective, and consequently many students are passed through the practice of social progression. Attendance is not factored into the decision.
Funding for schools plays a major role in student progression. The Bulgarian Ministry of Education funds schools almost exclusively on enrollment. The outcome is competition among schools for students, and any school who is "blacklisted" for failing students loses potential pupils. If a school decides to fail a student, that school will not only lose the failed student (who just moves to another school) but jeopardizes the chance to enroll the failed students friends and family. A school who loses too many students loses funding for teachers, heat and electricity, and could potentially be forced to close their doors permanently.
The outcome - students who almost never attend class, rarely complete coursework, and miss tests are passed regardless. Meanwhile, teachers and administrators concern themselves with recruiting and retaining students in order to keep their jobs and consequently rarely consider failing a student an option. The Bulgarian system, through the practice of social promotion, teaches that not only is a sub-par performance accepted, it's rewarded. This can cause a significant reverberation in adult life/in a work environment where such a culture is unacceptable. School serves as a "training ground" to produce the next generation of lawyers, doctors, teachers, mechanics; trained professionals, and socially promoted students are less likely to meet the basic requirements needed to create the skilled workforce that is necessary to compete in the global economy. References http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin040.shtml. Starr, Linda.(2006). Can schools stop promoting failure? Retrieved from The American Federation of Teachers. (2001).
Making standards matter. Retrieved from http://www.aft.org/newspubs/periodicals/ae/winter2001/standards.cfm. Bulgarian Eurydice Unit. (2011). National system overview on education
systems in Europe. Bulgaria. Retrieved from
http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/eurybase/national_summary_sheets/047_BG_EN.pdf. Dainov, E. (n.d.). Eduation reform in Bulgaria: a study in failure.
Retrieved from https://iweb.cergeei.cz/pdf/gdn/RRCV_48_paper_01.pdf. Stapleton, K. & Robles-Pina, R.A. (n.d.) Grade retention: good or bad?
Retrieved from http://www.shsu.edu/~piic/Fall2009/Robles-pina.html. Jacob, B. & Lefgren, L. (2007). The effect of grade retention on high school completion.
Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w13514.pdf?new_window=1. David, J. (2008) Grade retention. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar08/vol65/num06/Grade-Retention.aspx. World Bank. (2010). Bulgarian education system becomes more efficient, further focus on quality needed. Retrieved from http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/2010/09/13/bulgarian-education-system-more-efficient-further-focus-quality-needed. Less than one-half of Bulgarian students are able to reach the OECD critical threshold of reading literacy and math competency (World Bank, 2010). Studies have shown that neither social promotion or grade retention are effective in helping the underachieving student. Both practices alone have negative impact on the student, the school, funding, and society.
Research shows that early identification and intervention of students who are falling behind helps. And, schools that practice grade retention with individual one-on-one intervention have proven effective in helping the underachieving student close the learning gap. Meanwhile, many argue that grade-level standards are necessary, as well as an increase in funding for teacher trainings.
Personally, I feel that the aforementioned practices are merely a quick patch on a failing dam. Educational reform must address the multilevel classroom and systems should focus less on creating a classroom with students of the same age, and more on appropriate instructional level for individual students. decreases support for public schools Impact of Social Promotion undermines effort and achievement
decreases motivation (for teachers and students)
perpetuates cycle of low achievement leads to a multilevel classroom
devalues objective standards
rewards sub-standard performance USA & Bulgaria increases number of university/college students required to take remedial courses
creates an ill-prepared student and future workforce Petrova, T. (2003). School pearls - late cannibals. Retrieved from
http://www.segabg.com/article.php?sid=2003072600010050001. Falling behind (as a result of retention, social promotion, or otherwise) increases exponentially with each grade level in which the student does not meet the minimum requirement for success. This causes an acceleration-of-effect. In other words, each consecutive educational failure delivers a jolt as powerful as all previous rounds combined. Some of these jolts are visible in viewing a student's low test scores or comparative analysis . And, some are rendered invisible, as in a student's low self-esteem, shame, and diminishing self-confidence. In the latter cases, the damaging impact is immeasurable, and perhaps, more dangerous. The Bigger Picture