Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced today that he is expanding his push to end social promotion (sort of) to 7th grade. In January 2004, he announced that as of immediately, that year’s 3rd grade class would be required to score a level 2 or above (level 2 is passing on a scale of 1-4) on math and reading tests in order to be promoted to 4th grade. Panic ensued. No one was killed or injured, but it ended up a sloppy rush-job of a policy. Last year, the mayor announced much earlier in the school year that the policy would extend to 5th graders, and things were much quieter. Now, the 7th grade plan will be part of an intense new focus on middle schools — a longtime disaster area in NYC.
The policies have been very controversial in certain quarters, and represent the kind of policy that previously might have been killed for lack of a consensus among the establishment. That was before control of the schools was given to Bloomberg in 2002. The mayor pointed himself in this direction, stubbornly dug in his heels, and demanded that his education team make it happen. NY Times story is here. Newsday story is here. Time will tell whether this all makes a difference. In the mean time, no matter where you sit on the retention issue, it is noteworthy that Bloomberg keeps finding a way to plow forward with it.
— Joe Williams