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  • Writer's pictureMegan Yoshino

Quality or Quantity Part II- If Social Promotion or Retention Doesn’t Work, What Will?

If you haven’t read Part I, please read it first!

In my last post I told you about a student I was working with who did not master many skills from previous grade levels but was still passed to the next grade. The material got harder each year but he still didn’t know the basics. It was snowballing. And yet he was passed onto the next grade.

Along with that complication is if grading is truly standards based, based on a skill reached, versus behavior, there is a lack of clarity on what proficiency looks like. For example, my tutoring kids will bring in their papers and tell me they received an A or B. However, when I review it, I tell them it’s hovering in C territory for me, which is then grade inflation. Extra credit also adds to grade inflation because most times it’s not based on a standard. Whew. You got all that?

The worst part is that there are kids out there who wholly believe that they are A students, but are only A students because of extra credit, which sometimes is not even related to the assignment. They are hired at jobs and are confident they will succeed only to find out they can’t make it without the support of school (re-takes, no late penalty, accommodations and modifications) and extra credit.

One of the effects down the line that educators don’t directly see is adults who are unemployable when things like social promotion just shuffled them along. As a former corporate trainer, I’ve seen adults who had difficulty telling military time and had trouble reading and writing. Did success in the next grade ensure that they would be successful as adults? I’m not sure how to find a great answer to this.

I hear complaints of my friends who are managers, trainers or even just doing their non-management jobs on how employees are not self starters, have trouble listening, don’t communicate or omit information that would be critical, can’t summarize and the list goes on. The best part is that one of my own students has said to me, “Kids nowadays. It’s so hard to find good help.” My own student from ten years ago said this! I know that every generation has said this about the next and so we tend to brush it off, but what are we missing in doing so?

If we have adults who have trouble holding a steady job, is it then on the schools to provide a better education? Is it on the parents or community to help? Is it a community coming together?

I honestly do NOT have an answer for this, but all I know is we need to do better as a community, locally and global.

What are some of your thoughts on how all of this impacts your life and community?

Doherty, Kathryn M. “Social Promotion.” Education Week, 14 Dec. 2020,,performance%20standards%20at%20key%20grades.

Kamenetz, Anya. “Study: Holding Kids Back a Grade Doesn't Necessarily Hold Them Back.” NPR, NPR, 10 July 2017,

Strauss, Valerie. “Does Holding Kids Back a Year Help Them Academically? No. but Schools Still Do It.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 30 Nov. 2021,

Ydstie, John. “Oldest Kids in Class Do Better, Even through College.” NPR, NPR, 18 Aug. 2017,

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