Soical Promotion In Education Today


Amanda Ellington
Dr. Cotton
English Comp.
March 31, 1999
Social Promotion an evil in this Society
Johnny is a fifth grade student who is almost ready to graduate and move on to the sixth grade. Johnny however, can not multiply or divide. He cannot spell or read. Johnny fell behind in the third grade. His teacher overlooked his failure and promoted him so that he would not be held up socially. Johnny's fourth grade teacher promoted him to fifth grade hoping that he would catch up with his classmates. Johnny is now about to enter the sixth grade with the educational skills of a second grader.
The situation described above is called social promotion. It is the process of moving children through grades regardless of learning or skill. For years it has been the common practice in education to move " students from grade to grade because of chronological age" (Mitzel 468). Students should have an adequate education in order to be equipped for the twenty- first and twenty-second century. The injustice of social promotion should be ended and society must discover the best route to achieve genuine student success.
"Students who are socially promoted have no skills for life. The number of social promotions each year nears two million" (American Federation Teachers). Social Promotion shows children that no matter what grade they achieve they will be promoted. This creates two problems. Students will not work to achieve; laziness is created in children. Second, the students who work hard and learn the material are often overlooked so that a teacher may help a student who is behind because of social promotion.
Social promotion was brought to the attention of the country when President Clinton gave his State of the Union Address in 1999. In this address he stated many educational goals such as a mandatory third grade reading goal and the reformation of the school system in order to equip it for the twenty -first centuries. Along these same lines the President has called an end to social promotion. President Clinton proposed not just to hold back failing students but to do something about their failure. Such as remedial classrooms, identifying weakness before it is too late, strengthening learning opportunities and placing strong well-trained teachers in classrooms (Galston 35).
If a student was asked in the nineteenth century what grade she or he was in they would probably say something along the lines of, "I sit in the fifth row" or "I have a blue reading book"(Mitzel 450). There were no grade levels, which is most likely where social promotion found its roots. Although Social Promotion is a newly arising concern today: it has a long history. The process of promoting students no matter what their academic success has been the standard in education thus far. For example in Chicago alone more than 40,000 children … failed standardized tests" (Berg A2).
Why are student allowed to slip though the fingers of education? "For one thing it is easier to promote the student from grade to grade than it is to deal seriously with that students learning problem" (Economist 33). This is the main reason for social promotion. It is the theory of "if it isn't looked at then it isn't there." Teachers and administrators do not want to accept failure on their own parts or the students. "This is a case where the educational needs of children take a back seat to administrative convenience" (Economist 34). Students keep getting promoted to the next grade without the knowledge necessary to survive. Often it is thought that if a student is promoted then they will catch up in the following grade. This sets the next class behind because it is filled with some students who have the skills and some that do not and should not be in that specific grade level. The next teacher is at a loss for what level to teach, should they teach down at the non-skilled students and risk losing the other students attention? "Social Promotion [occurs] to avoid damaging their self-worth, then to assume that the child will catch up in later grades
(McCormick 27)." Administrators and teachers do not want to impair students self esteem by holding them back. Holding children back is