Promotion policy changes considered

May 14, 2001

Promotion policy changes considered


Washington County students could have a harder time passing to the next grade level under revisions to the school system's promotion and retention policy.

The revisions are meant to prepare students better for the upcoming high school assessment graduation requirement, said Linda Fernandez, the board's director of curriculum.

The policy has not been revised since 1979.

The state Department of Education estimates 30 percent of students will fail the assessments without an intervention plan.

Students entering ninth grade in the fall of 2001 and 2002 will be required to take the assessments as part of an introductory phase. By 2003, students will have to pass the tests as a graduation requirement.


The Washington County revisions include:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> In grades kindergarten to eight, students must meet minimal "content standards" to be promoted. The existing policy does not state criteria to be used for promotion, retention or acceleration decisions. Content standards are the minimum that students must have learned in a particular grade.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> High school students must earn four credits to be promoted to sophomore rank; 10 credits to be promoted to junior rank, as opposed to the current requirement of nine credits; and 15 credits to be promoted to the senior rank, as opposed to the current requirement of 14 credits.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> School staff will have the final decision on whether to promote or retain a student.

Fernandez said the revisions will allow the school system to identify struggling students early on in their education career.

"Currently, students who are not prepared are often promoted to the next grade level," Fernandez said. The further along the student is grade-wise, the greater the gap between what the student should know and the student's actual achievement."

"When passing the high school assessment is required to receive a diploma, our failure to intervene effectively early on in the students' k-12 education will result in students' failure to graduate in a timely manner," Fernandez said.

Carol Mowen, the board's public information officer, said students who are held back will continue to receive intervention and could possibly receive "Individualized Intervention Plans" (IIPs).

"A repeated grade does not mean that the student will simply receive again what did not work the first time," Mowen said.

An IIP would determine each student's intervention needs, programming and assessment standards.

The Board of Education will consider the first reading of the policy revisions at its meetings on Tuesday.

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