Promotion vs. graduation

All eighth graders at a middle school near San Diego marched in graduation ceremonies even though one fourth of San Ysidro Middle School’s class didn’t meet graduation requirements, reports the San Diego Union-Trib. After all, they’re all being sent on to high school anyhow. The high school principal says 70 percent of incoming ninth graders are working below grade level.

(San Ysidro Middle counselor Rosemarie)Ponce said she’s heard administrators say that all students should be able to walk in today’s ceremony because it might be the only graduation ceremony they’ll ever have. Such low expectations won’t help them earn a diploma four years from now, she said.

“We’ll never know what they can do unless we raise the bar,” Ponce said.

The principal — the fourth in five years — says the “problem is that low expectations are being communicated daily in classrooms.” There’s little effective help for students who fall behind, and no consequences: Not a single student at the school is being held back.

Most local districts promote nearly every eighth grader; some high schools now have special programs for ninth graders who are working far below grade level.

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  1. At the California junior high school where I teach, we don’t allow pupils having less than a “C” average to participate at the eighth grade “graduation ceremony.” They may participate if they have earned “F”s as long as the overall G.P.A is 2.0 or above.

    We “promote” 100% of our eighth grade students (450+ pupils) to high school regardless of their G.P.A.s

    “Social Promotion” is very much alive and well in Southeastern California.

  2. ucladavid says:

    I teach 7th grade world history in california and if a student fails my class, nothing happens to them. They still go onto the 8th grade and they are only strongly encouraged to go to summer school. If a student fails math and/or english, they take those classes instead of history. Students don’t have any consequences for failing a class until the 8th grade and their only punishment for failing is not walking on stage. The sad thing is that the students still get an 8th grade diploma when they may not know anything and it may be the only diploma they ever receive.

  3. Is it any wonder that many teachers and their Unions despise standardized testing? Those tests are likely to prove that some teachers are not doing what they are paid to do. How can anyone serious about teaching approve of rewarding failure? Far from a bad thing, teaching to the test may be the only teaching these kids get.

    Then again, perhaps underperforming teachers are afraid that by actually educating these kids they’ll undermine the local supply of gardeners, burger flippers and short-order cooks so essential to everyday life.

  4. At the junior high where I teach, the parents are in charge of all eighth-grade graduation ceremonies, dances, etc. All eighth-graders get to participate, regardless of their chances of passing. In fact, the ceremony and dance are usually held a month BEFORE school dismisses for the summer, so it’s impossible to really know who is going to pass and fail. When did eighth-grade graduations become commonplace? I didn’t have an eighth-grade graduation ceremony, and I think I turned out okay. Perhaps we should follow the example of those who are opposed to valedictorians and do away with eighth-grade graduations.

  5. dogbert2 says:

    Geez, what in the is this 8th grade graduation ceremony malarky? When I was in school
    (graduated high school in 1981), we had NO such nonsense upon leaving Jr High (this was grades 7 and 8 in my time), you had to pass all of the required coursework in junior high, otherwise you were parking your butt in summer school and re-learning what you should have learned during the school year.

    In my day, it was no thrill being the kid in the neighborhood who was parking their butt in summer school, cause everyone knew why you were there (except if you were a 10th grader looking to graduate at the end of the junior year, we only needed 19 courses to graduate in my day).

    I suspect that this delusion which is foisted upon these kids will come back in the not so distant future to bite them all in their collective rear-ends…

  6. Nancy D says:


    Why do you think that it’s the TEACHERS doing this? The comments in the article and here indicate to me the teachers want kids to be held back to learn the material they failed to learn.

  7. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    San Ysidro is a city closest to the Mexican border. My guess is that the majority of the students are of Mexican descent, perhaps even children of illegal aliens. Big surprise that most aren’t meeting minimum grade level standards. Bigger surprise is that the large influx of low performing illegal aliens into the public school districts of border states ie. California, Arizona, Texas etc. has eroded public education.
    If the urgency of post 9/11 national security isn’t enough impetus to stop or severely limit illegal immigration, the erosion of public schools definitely won’t do it. And no–I’m not against immigrants, just illegal immigrants. Take a number, get in line. Don’t take ‘cuts’, don’t usurp our sovereignty. My grandparents on both sides came legally to this country through Ellis Island. They proudly sent their children through Boston and Philadelphia public schools. Immigrants who respect our laws make our country great. E Pluribus Unum.

  8. Mr Pythium says:

    I agree with dogbert2.

    Aside from that, though, wouldn’t it be a violation of some privacy acts to prohibit the underachievers from marching in the ceremony? After all, someone could reasonably assume from a student’s absence that the student’s grades were less than the graduation threshold?

  9. The principal — the fourth in five years — says the “problem is that low expectations are being communicated daily in classrooms.”

    The problem is that low (academic) expectations are being communicated every second in the ghetto communities. The problem is that if schools attempt to reverse such cultural programming, and instill an attitude of excellence, they are guilty of “cultural imperialism”.