Friday, July 30, 2010

Social Promotion

Social promotion is one of those "hot button" issues in education.  What does it mean exactly?  Well, when  a child isn't doing well in school, and doesn't make any progress and fails classes, etc...basically doesn't have what it takes to succeed in the next grade, they should be held back to repeat the grade, right???  Wrong...not under the "social promotion" theory.  Social promotion is when we move a kiddo onto the next grade, even though they are not academically ready, so that they don't socially fall behind.....they stay with their same age peers and friends, etc.  One of the theories is that holding a student back is too emotionally scarring, and that they will be able to catch up to their peers next time around.  Although in some instances I might agree, overall, I think social promotion is a bad idea.  What is worse...staying back in second grade because you can't read, or graduating high school reading at a second grade level and having that frustration for the rest of your life????

The topic came up today in the Manchester NH Union Leader.  Apparently, nearly 13 percent.....that's right....13 percent of Hillside Middle School students were "socially promoted" to the next grade.  That means students who can't read, write, or do math at appropriate levels have just been passed along.....only to fall further and further behind.  That is a problem.........what do you think???

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Small School Trend.....Am I Missing Something?

So I read this article on Education Week  last week.  It went on to say, “Small schools have had mixed results around the country – while students are more likely to graduate, have positive relationships with teachers, and feel safer, they did no better on standardized tests than their peers at big schools. Should the small school trend continue?” Ed Week Small School Article

I am still not sure what is bad about the above statement.  So, the focus lately has been on reducing drop out rates and making sure more kids graduate….according to the above, small schools have more students that graduate.  We also know that one of the most important factors in a student’s success in school is a caring adult connection…and small schools seem to have more positive relationships between students and teachers.   And bullying and cyberbullying are other huge concerns currently in our public schools, and apparently in small schools students feel safer.  

And, we have a lot of research and evidence to show that standardized tests really don’t mean all that much, and many colleges aren’t even requiring them anymore, and according to the above, kids from small schools do as well as their peers in big schools on these tests…… ….am I missing something?

What on earth in that statement would support NOT continuing the small school “trend”?

Of course, it is not just all about the small size.  There are going to be bad small schools, good ones and some excellent small schools.  A strong, motivated, and highly trained school staff is as important as the size of the school in my opinion. If you have both a strong faculty and small class size, it allows for more appropriate programming and individualization and personalization…..all of which leads to better results.  And when I say results….I mean much more than test scores!!!