Must Pass To Advance

Idaho is now requiring that middle school students pass 80% of their 7th and 8th grade classes to advance into high school. I say this is a valid decision, and I’m curious to follow the results. As a high school teacher, I see too many students entering well below grade level, essentially placed in a position where they are doomed to fail.

According to the article:

“Students understand that middle level doesn’t count,” said Rob Sauer, the state Department of Education’s deputy superintendent for innovation and choice….”It’s an issue because you hear from these students who are very capable, but they don’t think school counts until ninth or 10th grade,” [state Department of Education spokeswoman Melissa] McGrath said.

Idaho must prepare for a bit more crowding in the middle schools, but I think this is worth it. Waiting until 9th grade–10 years into the system–to hold students accountable is way too late. I wish them well in this venture and look forward to seeing the results over the next 7-10 years.

6 thoughts on “Must Pass To Advance

  1. Wendy

    Our district in PA required that if students fail two out of 5 major subjects in grades 7 & 8 they be retained unless they make up the course in 60 hours of summer school. They need a 65% to pass. My question is, what is the difference between a 64 and a 65 as far as skills? I think they need to show mastery of required standards before they move to the next grade. Example, if a student gets a mere 65 in math, how do you know they learned the skills they need to move to the next level of math, say, Pre-Algebra or Algebra? What if there are huge gaps in their learning?

  2. aphillieteacher

    Wonderful! I wish that was true here in Philadelphia. Our middle schoolers essentially cannot fail, regardless of how hard they try.

    The result is exactly as you describe it: many students entering well below grade level, essentially placed in a position where they are doomed to fail.

    The high school dropout rate here is roughly 67%. With a system like yours, that percentage could be greatly reduced.

  3. The Science Goddess

    Most districts are doing this as a response to NCLB. Once a student hits 9th grade, they must graduate within 4 years, or they are not counted in the graduation rate (even if they finish at a later point in time). Since this is AYP related, districts want as many “ready” 9th graders as possible.

    I worked in a school (long ago and far away) that had credit requirements to enter high school. For most kids, this worked. However, we did have 18-year old 9th graders (school was 8th and 9th grades) in classes with 12-year old 8th graders—which was not good. This was especially unpopular with parents of young girls. We also discovered that some students flunked on purpose, because if you were dealing drugs, it paid to stay in the same spot and let a new crop of buyers come to you each year. Eventually, we had to make a rule that any student who was 17-years old had to go to the high school, regardless of credits.

    I think we have to keep in mind that credits do not necessarily represent learning or preparedness.


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