Making schools and parents more accountable for educating children is likely to spell the end of "social promotion" - the practice of passing students with bad grades onto the next level.
At the same time, state-mandated testing is forcing schools to rethink what best serves failing students. Holding them back may result in them dropping out later on. To prevent that, many states are trying to help children get up to speed academically.
In New York City, summer school has been expanded, but attendance has been a problem. The city plans to hold back 20,208 students in third grade through eighth grade this year, including 7,500 who didn't show up for summer school. But the point is being made: Kids who don't perform face mandatory summer school.
In California, a 1998 law requiring an end to social promotion is taking hold. Orange County, for instance, is keeping back a record number of schoolchildren. It's also offering vigorous catch-up efforts. The law, in fact, requires extra help for those who fail.
State tests that determine graduation and end social promotion must be done in tandem with extra studies. Giving all kids a better academic footing will help them all gain a diploma.
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