Robert Bobb, emergency financial manager of Detroit Public Schools, has banned social promotion “to the outrage of Detroit school board members who called it a political ploy in the midst of a court battle between Bobb and the board over academic control of the district,” reports the Detroit News.
A complete ban on social promotion would affect a whole lot of students.
The district caught national attention in December when its fourth-graders came in last in the nation on the National Assessment of Education Progress with scores that were the lowest recorded in the history of the prestigious exam.
There’s “no uniform or effective strategy” to deal with failing students, says Barbara Byrd-Bennett, DPS emergency academic officer. Some are held back at least once. Others are moved on without the skills they need. Bobb worries most about eighth graders who aren’t ready for high school.
But retaining students is expensive — and often unhelpful if they simply repeat what didn’t work the year before. Intervening to get struggling students up to speed costs money too. The district is broke as well as broken.