By Carmelita Roberts
Social promotion has been an ongoing solution for Prince Edward Island's struggling students from K- Grade 9. But is placing students, who did not meet the academic standard, into the next grade level, really fair to them? Coming from one student's perspective, the consequences are more detrimental than beneficial.
When students only advance to the next grade because of social promotion, they risk repeating bad habits and falling behind even more. Yes, at first, those students may feel happy to be with their peers, however, when work catches up with them, they become overwhelmed. Dealing with the challenge to keep up academically with the rest of their grade could cause a negative school experience. Also, if children are placed in the succeeding grade without being required to complete the necessary amount of homework or study, they could lose the value in work ethic. That could be very damaging for them once they get to high school and possibly even more so into the future.
Furthermore, social promotion creates false confidence in those students who actually feel they are prepared for higher education. As they fly through junior high, kids might think they meet the requirements for academic courses in high school and then after getting to high school, feel defeated once they realize they cannot grasp the concepts. On the other hand, if grade retention existed in junior high, students who fall behind could come to the honest realization that they might excel better in general courses and this could result in a positive experience. A student’s realization about their potential, real strengths and interests helps them make decisions and choices that will enhance their future. Social promotion that gets some students from kindergarten to high school only to realize they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, is not what education is all about.
In some ways, social promotion might encourage the fear of failure. If a person has to repeat a subject in high school, for the first time, it could be embarrassing for them and cause them to give up. Whereas, enforcement of grade retention in primary and junior high schools, might be more opt for students to embrace the opportunity to open their minds and improve their skills. Honest and fair assessments inform students where they stack up, and pretending they know what they don’t is not helping them prepare for their future. Alternative solutions that help such students identify and support their unique needs, as well as strengths, is something that should be taken action on.