Editorials

Sad return of social promotion

Faced with tougher standardized state reading and math exams for students this year, the New York City Department of Education is reverting to an old policy of social promotion to avoid skyrocketing numbers of students who will have to pass summer school or repeat a year.

It will be brutal when these tests are given, and it didn’t have to be this way.

The DOE is in this fix because it failed to provide teachers with new curriculum aligned with the Common Core Learning Standards that would have helped prepare our students to pass these harder exams, which are based on the new standards.

The DOE has known for years that these tougher tests were coming, but it did not give teachers the basic tools they needed to get their students ready for them.

To save face, the mayor is reviving the social promotion policy that he banned in 2004. The DOE recently sent letters to parents alerting them to the fact that students in grades 3 through 8 will be taking the new state tests that it acknowledges are harder to pass. The letter goes on to note that it will take time for students to fully adjust to the tougher state tests.

As a result, students will be held to a lower standard in order to hold the line on the number of students attending summer school or repeating a grade.

The Bloomberg administration has always made a point of stressing the crucial role of data in shaping its educational policy. But in this case the administration is showing a cynical willingness to game the system by arbitrarily changing the rules to avoid an expected — and potentially embarrassing — significant rise in the number of struggling and failing students.

The upshot is the mayor can arbitrarily change the city’s policy to try to salvage what remains of his legacy. Meanwhile, our students are left holding the bag.

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