The New York City Department of Education (DOE) is updating its policy on how students who fail state tests can achieve promotion to the next grade level. The DOE will now only require elementary and middle school students who score in the bottom 10 percent of their state exams to go to summer school and pass in order to be promoted to the next grade. This is a departure from the strict policy Mayor Michael Bloomberg enacted in 2004 which stated that all students who fail must attend summer school and pass in order to be promoted. Mayor Bloomberg called anything else "social promotion."
“It appears that the message being sent to students with this change in policy by administration and the NYC DOE is that ‘Our educational standards will not support your competition on a national level,’” states Suzanne Rheault, CEO of Aristotle Circle. “This policy, coupled with the increased rigor of a nationally imposed Common Core curriculum, will potentially widen an already unacceptable achievement gap.”
The policy change is related to this year’s introduction of new state tests. The new tests were implemented in order to better measure the skills and information students should actually know at each grade level, ensuring that students are prepared for college-level work upon their high school graduation. Officials say the new tests will be much more difficult to pass and as such, the policy change was deemed necessary. However, due to the increased difficulty level of the new tests, officials anticipate more students will fail the state standardized tests this year.
“Almost half of the New York City’s students were failing the old tests that were considered less difficult to pass,” said Janet Roberts, Director of Education and Director of Product Development of Aristotle Circle. “It is critical that parents empower themselves with knowledge of what’s on these tests, how to prepare for them, and what grade-level their child is performing at before, not after, taking these tests. This foresight becomes especially important as summer school may only be available for kids who fail miserably.”
In order to keep summer school attendance from skyrocketing, some students may now be allowed to fail their high stakes exams and get to move on anyway without learning the skills required of their grade or needed to prepare for success in the next grade.
This latest change may mean that students who fail may be promoted anyway with students who scored in the 11%-65% range left to fill in the gaps on their own without any additional educational support to bring them up to grade-level.
“This policy change will especially hurt ELL students, minority students, and students with learning disabilities whose bleak pass rates are typically much lower than their counterparts, ranging from 12%-53% last year,” states Roberts.
Aristotle Circle, a national educational company, has publications, assessments and tutoring services to help parents ensure their children are meeting and exceeding their grade level requirements for every region in the country. They have developed the award-winning ISEE® Preparation Workbook: Lower Level and ISEE® Practice Test 1: Lower Level to help students master Mathematics and English Language Arts skills required of students in Grades 3-6. Their ISEE® materials are aligned to Common Core State Standards outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and International Reading Association (IRA).
“Our preparation materials prepare students for State Tests aligned to Common Core Standards such as NY ELA & Mathematics Tests, and we give parents the power to take these high-stakes tests out of the school and into the home,” states Rheault. Aristotle Circle offers mathematics and reading assessments for parents to determine if their children are performing at grade level in their State Standards and/or Common Core strands. Roberts explains, “Our assessments can be administered in the privacy of the student’s home with confidential results.”
Unfortunately with this potential new policy change and more challenging Common Core aligned state exams, only students many grade levels behind will have the opportunity to fill in educational gaps in summer school. Those who are in the failing range above 10% will be both pushed ahead to the next grade but left behind academically.
Contact Aristotle Circle to learn more about how to prepare your child for the new harder state exams and to find out if your child is behind grade level in any New York State Common Core standards required to pass the NY State ELA or Mathematics Tests this year. Aristotle Circle provides State Standards and Common Core tutoring as well as special education services all customized to the individual needs students.