New York schools put to test on end to social promotions
September 4, 1999
From Correspondent Frank Buckley
NEW YORK (CNN) -- With the start of the new school year less than a week away for New York City public school students, more than 21,000 must repeat a grade after failing to fulfill academic requirements in an unprecedented mandatory summer school.
This part of the school system's plan to abolish so-called social promotions is drawing criticism from some quarters.
More than 35,000 youngsters spent the summer months in class. To advance to the next grade, they were required to pass an exam.
Approximately 14,000 never took the test. Of the 21,000 who did, 13,000 passed and 7,500 failed. Add the no-shows to those who failed and that equals more than 21,000 students who will not be promoted.
School officials are standing firm in their effort to end social promotions, in which students advanced to the next grade even if they had not met all academic requirements.
"The bottom line is there was a requirement to attend summer school and pass the tests," Judith Rizzo, New York City Schools Deputy Chancellor for Instruction, said. "Youngsters who did not take or pass the tests were not promoted."
Administrators say they were not surprised by the large numbers in the first year.
"For some youngsters and their families there is the question of, 'Is this serious? Do they mean it?' And then (there are the) people who are willing to try us," said Rudy Crew, chancellor of the New York City schools.
Jill Chaifetz, Executive Director of Advocacy For Children, sees it another way.
"We've had a lot of parents who have called who are shocked. They didn't know their child was in any academic problems," said Chaifetz. "If you look at their report cards, they should be shocked because the report cards say they are doing very well."
Chaifetz's group is suing New York City's school system on behalf of all of the affected students. She says children and parents were not given timely notification of the deficiencies and they were not offered remedial services to correct them.
"It's just plain unfair, as well as just being bad educational practice," Chaifetz said.
A court hearing on the suit is scheduled for September 14, five days after the new school years starts, with more than 21,000 students preparing to repeat a grade.
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