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DOE makes grade advancement tougher

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It’s going to take a lot more to get into the ninth grade now. The city Department of Education (DOE) is upping promotion standards to ensure that students enter high school with adequate reading and math skills. If students are prepared for high school-level work, educrats believe the graduation rate will rise and the dropout rate will fall. Under a proposed policy similar to those already implemented in grades three, five and seven, eighth-graders who fail standardized English Language Arts (ELA) and math exams will be held back. For added measure, students must pass all core academic subjects – English, math, social studies, and science – to gain promotion. Students who are denied promotion can file an appeal or attend summer school to retake failed courses or exams. The DOE says the policy changes, which would be implemented during the 2008-2009 school year, are necessary to end social promotion, the common practice of sending students to the next grade regardless of their ability to master the curriculum or obtain basic skills. The department says, “Far too many students, nearly 25 percent, are entering high school today well below the level of skills and knowledge they need to prosper.” The DOE’s Panel for Educational Policy, which is led by schools Chancellor Joel Klein and controlled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is expected to vote on – and approve – the proposed promotion changes in the spring. To give parents a chance to weigh in on the changes, public hearings will be held in each borough. Brooklyn’s meeting is scheduled for March 4 at 6 p.m. at Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place. Comments can also be submitted to the DOE by sending an e-mail topromotion@schools.nyc.gov. Parents aren’t waiting for the forums. They’re already speaking out about the likelihood of tougher standards for eighth-graders. “I think it’s a good policy,” said David Bloomfield, a member of the Citywide Council on High Schools (CCHS). However, “They have to start interventions way before eighth grade,” he continued. “The Department of Education six years into mayoral control is still not providing adequate elementary or middle school instruction, let alone high school instruction.”

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