Forum: Arts / Debates

Social promotion versus grade retention
By RileyA
On Sun May 06, 2012 01:53 AM
Edited by RileyA (148701) on 2012-05-06 01:54:22

Reading the topic on lifting the compulsory school age. It got me thinking about the way different countries promote and retain students from Grade to grade. What do you think is right?

Social promotion? Some countries (I have heard the UK) believe in social promotion. Which means the kid can move up to the next grade every year no matter how badly they do. The feel that it is better for the child's development to be with peers of their own age but receive extra help if they are behind.

Grade retention? Other countries (I hear this is how it is done in the USA) expect a certain pass level for each grade and if the standards are not met the child must repeat that grade until they are.

A bit of both? In Australia we use a bit of each system. No school has the right to hold a child back a grade unless the parents agree to it. If the parents can be convinced that it will benefit the child they can repeat.

I don't personally agree with our Australian system where parent permission is needed. I knew of a child who every single year it was recommended that she repeat the grade, and every single year on the first day of school the mother brought her child to school and insisted she be put up a grade.

23 Replies to Social promotion versus grade retention

re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun May 06, 2012 07:44 AM
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2012-05-06 07:44:59 typo
I'm in the US and I agree with our system here: you do not automatically advance a grade, you pass a grade level. There are a minimum set of requirements you must meet in order to advance. If you have not met these requirements, you have failed and must be held back to repeat. Of course very rarely happens. (You can also advance a grade if you already know the material.) If you don't know the basics of what you were supposed to learn, you won't be able to build on that foundation the next year, and it frustrates the student and can also hold back the rest of his class.

But again it doesn't happen often and the school works to make sure it doesn't happen. I remember only once a member of my class was held back a grade in elementary school because he was English as a Second Language (ESL) and was still struggling with those skills. He was only held back that one year, and with good reason: you need to speak English in American schools! In high school I think there were ESL students repeating grades as well though there was sort of a track unto themselves (they had a whole separate set of courses and requirements).

Schools recognize the social importance of staying with a grade and hold students back only when they absolutely have to. If someone's repeating a grade level more than once they're going to be in private instruction as well (like remedial classes and stuff) and probably will be looking into alternative schools.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By highlanddncr
On Sun May 06, 2012 08:20 AM
My opinion probably is biased, because I teach first grade....It is not true that the whole US must pass in order to advance. I know in many areas, including where I live, the parents have the final say. From my experience, neither way (social promotion or pass only) can be applied sucessfully across the board. Where I live, we do not retain ESOL children or children who are in special education (with IEP's). The theory is that these children are getting support from their specialty teachers to catch up and retaining them is like punishing them for their disability/lack of exposure to English. As for normal education students, you really have to look at each child. Retention works for some but not for others. Things such as parent willingness to work with the child, emotional reaction and exact academic achievement all factor in when we decide to retain or not.

Now the part that I don't agree with is that parents can override all this careful consideration and just do what they want. It's especially frustrating in this age of "No child left behind" when teachers' evaluations and in some places salaries depend on the test scores/achievement of their students. As an example...I have a first grader this year who was "retained" in kindergarten. His mom put up a big fit and he got put in first grade this year. He is so young and immature, plays all day, still doesn't know all his letter sounds, and is failing miserably (just like they told her he would be if he moved up to first). Mom is not supportive, didn't manage to get him to summer school/tutor last summer, can't even read with him or do homework all year. I do have a variety of academic levels (on the first grade range) in my classroom and I think I do a good job of differentiating the work so each child is at their exact level but he needs a whole separate curriculum (the Kindergarten curriculum). So now as we end the year he is obviously not ready for second grade (he's now at about 2nd quarter kindergarten levels) so according to NCLB I've "failed" to teach him....how is that my fault?? If he was retained in kindergarten, then he would have been in an appropriate environment and been able to learn and transition appropriately to first grade.

Okay. off my soapbox now!
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Bridgetbeemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun May 06, 2012 08:56 AM
I'm English. The OP is right in saying that holding a child back a year just isn't something that happens in school here. The only situation I have heard of where somebody had to repeat a year is when they missed a significant amount of the school year (i.e. a number of months) due to serious illness.

The way our school system is structured means the idea of holding a child back doesn't really make much sense. For starters, Heart said:
'you do not automatically advance a grade, you pass a grade level. There are a minimum set of requirements you must meet in order to advance. '
This isn't the case in English schools. I can't speak for private school, but in state schools there aren't any kind of end of year exams or pieces of coursework to assess whether a student should move up or stay put in the grade. Instead, you automatically move up with your year group no matter how well or badly you've done.

I think this is a good thing, because I can imagine it would be incredibly humiliating for a child to be held back a year, especially at a young age. I was quite a sensitive child and would have been horrified to feel singled out. School is as much about learning social skills as it is about learning academic stuff, and I feel that holding children back would be detrimental to their social progression. Saying that, I already think the school system places too much emphasis on exam results, and making a child re-take a year is a reflection of that.

Heart also makes a good point that:
'If you don't know the basics of what you were supposed to learn, you won't be able to build on that foundation the next year, and it frustrates the student and can also hold back the rest of his class.'
In English schools we combat this problem by having classes that are split into mixed abilities. In my school there were about 300 students in my year, and for each subject there were ten levels, one being for the most advanced, and ten being for the least advanced. This meant you got to have classes with a wide range of students depending on what you were good at, meaning you got to know a lot more people in your year group. Most importantly, if you were talented at a particular subject, you'd be put in set one or two and get to take faster moving, more advanced classes, with students who were similarly talented as you. If you were struggling with a subject you'd get put in set nine or ten and get slower moving classes with loads of extra help. This system is the best of both worlds in my opinion, as it takes into account the vastly differing range of abilities without singling our or humiliating a child by making them stay back a year.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By slice
On Sun May 06, 2012 09:18 AM
Edited by slice (109495) on 2012-05-06 09:23:42
I pretty much agree with Heart's post. A child is not held back to embarrass them (or it shouldn't be), but because each grade is progressively more difficult and builds upon previously learned skills. You need the knowledge/skills from 2nd grade to pass 3rd grade. Same with 3rd to 4th and so-on and so-forth. Allowing a kid to move up when they aren't ready is really doing that child a disservice in the long run.

Now, what qualifies as "holding back" material is debatable. If a child is missing one skill, or is behind in one aspect, depending on what it is, I'm not sure if that should warrant repeating the entire year over again. Rather, the child should have an opportunity to take summer school and/or receive extra help either inside or outside of school. And some children just need the prospect of not moving up with their friends to just push them to try harder and succeed.

And at least from what I saw at my school, teachers were not expecting perfection in order for a student to move up. Sometimes even 'competency' was considered a stretch. So there's definitely a lot of wiggle room as far as whether or not a child/student moves on. And in high school it was less of noticeable issue since, sort of like college, there were certain types classes you needed to graduate, and couldn't do so without them. But if a student couldn't pass freshman level English, but passed freshman year math, it's not like they would have to take the math class over again.

However, the American school system is not perfect by any means! If fact sometimes I really feel it's going down the crapper. But in the end, early education should be very foundational, after which it becomes about building upon that foundation, for the most part. But there are always exceptions, which is why a decision to pass/hold a student should always be made on an individual basis.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By RileyA
On Sun May 06, 2012 08:01 PM
I must say, in all I tend to agree more with the USA system. I was held back a grade and it brought many benefits. It was not considered a bad thing, I was one of the youngest in my grade and it allowed me extra time for maturity, kids are in such a hurry to grow up these days.

The idea of a summer school program I like as well, especially for a kid who maybe should have moved up but just didn't try or complete the work, they have the chance to redeem themselves and learn from their mistakes. Also for a child who is perhaps just behind in 1 or 2 area's and needs some extra help to be ready for the next grade but not repeat the whole year.

Kids all mature and develop at different rates. Not every 10 year old is ready for the same education as the next 10 year old. This does not mean they won't end up being very bright and highly successful but if they always feel a little behind their peers they can grow up and transfer these feelings of inadequacy to the rest of their lives.

I strongly disagree that a parent should be able to override the decision. Parents are not experts and many frankly seem very clueless.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By hummingbird
On Sun May 06, 2012 10:02 PM
The UK system allows a child to be accelerated, both my husband and myself were put in this position, he was in a private school, I was, at that time in a state run school.

Personally I agree with being able to accelerate or making a child repeat a year. The only issue is that they are then not with their peer group and that can be an issue, it was with both my husband and myself but that could be because it's not an accepted practice in the UK.

None of my children have been held back from their year group at school so far and if they were it wouldn't bother me, I would just want them to gain as much as they could from their education and that's what this is all about. I would think twice about them being accelerated after my own experience.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun May 06, 2012 10:29 PM
I think that the worrying about peer groups is a lot of poppycock. Unless you're held back twice, you'll still be with your peers. For instance, I was born in August and started school on time, even though I was a week shy of almost being too young. Many of the people in my grade were 10-12 months older than me, while many of the people the grade behind me were only 1-6 months younger. At no point in my life was that age difference ever noticeable, not even in elementary school.

So, clearly I agree with grade retention ;) As an adult, I feel even more strongly that schools should be much more liberal in moving children ahead and back. At the end of Kindergarten, my teacher and school psychologist recommended me skipping a grade; I was advanced in all my subjects and was deeply bored due to lack of challenge. My parents declined, because grade skipping is so rare and they worried about the social implications of already being young AND being a grade ahead.

In hindsight, I SO DEEPLY wish they'd skipped me ahead. During elementary school, I was challenged by my TAG classes, but once I got to middle school I was absolutely bored to tears because the few "advanced" classes were in no way a challenge. By the time high school came along, I tested in the college level for most subjects and even college-in-the-schools/AP classes were boring, because they were "dumbed down" so to speak.

So, to summarize; not only do I support grade retention (and grade skipping), I think it needs to be done much more often with less concern over social lives.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Bridgetbeemember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 07, 2012 07:13 AM
^Just out of interest, in American schools do you have the levels system that I described in my last post? Or are you in randomly assigned classes that don't take academic ability into account?
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 07:18 AM
For some reason I think that we do the whole social promotion here, which is why you end up with grade 12 students reading at a grade 4 level.

If the kid can't keep up with the curriculum for the next year what good is that doing them. Then the teacher has several students in the classroom that aren't up to the same standards as the rest of the class, and this cycles from year to year because they never get caught up.

Its all fine and dandy to want to not harm them because you don't want little Johnny to have to repeat the 4th grade, but if they get to the 5th grade and can't keep up with their friends anyways what good does it do. I would rather my child be held back a year and do well the following year and get the foundations that they need.

Slight hijack, but I totally plan on doing a lot of stuff with T before she starts school... I was reading and writing before I started kindergarden, and I hope she is the same way.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By slice
On Mon May 07, 2012 08:08 AM
Edited by slice (109495) on 2012-05-07 08:10:46 proofing
Bridgetbee wrote:

^Just out of interest, in American schools do you have the levels system that I described in my last post? Or are you in randomly assigned classes that don't take academic ability into account?


Education in the US is primarily controlled by state-based systems, so comparing between schools can get tricky. Plus you have private schools, magnet schools, accelerated learning schools, so really you may hear drastically different things depending on who you ask.

I'm not sure what you mean by "randomly assigned classes". It's not like we are scattered around willy nilly. But things are likely to be more standardized until high school. Reason being, that the skills and knowledge learned in grade school is considered foundational, and pretty much a requirement to be remotely successful in life. You're not going to get very far if you don't know 2+2. Also standardized testing plays a HUGE role in what a grade is expected to know as a whole.

But it's not necessarily sink or swim. MANY schools have programs for students with slower-than-average learning capabilities, students with disabilities, and students who are above average. My dad's school offered to bump him up 2-3 grades when he was in 1st grade, but his parents declined. When I was in 4th grade there was a student in our class who left in the afternoon to take middle school math classes.

In high school (again, at least where I attended school) it becomes much easier to juggle students at various stages of learning. For geometry, for example, my school offered Applied Geometry, Geometry, and Honors Geometry. In addition, our range of math classes was such that some seniors might be taking Advanced Algebra as their last math class, while other seniors might be taking Calculus II.

But again, it varies from school-to-school, district-to-district, state-to-state, The issue of grade retention versus social promotion I think more applies to the elementary-middle school range of education.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 08:44 AM

^Just out of interest, in American schools do you have the levels system that I described in my last post? Or are you in randomly assigned classes that don't take academic ability into account?


I'm in the US, and at my son's school, for K, 1 and 2, it's just the kids being assigned into groups with no regard for academic ability. A couple of the kids have tutors, but beyond that, it's on the teacher to individually get each kid what they need.

My sons school is also the school that houses the gifted classes for the district, but they don't start until 3rd grade. I have every intention that when he gets to third grade, he'll test in to the gifted program. He's only in kindergarten, and I've already had to go "Ok, can we PLEASE get him some harder work to do?!"

There's one little boy in his class that even at this point in the year, struggles to write his own name. My son has been writing his name for two years. That little boy and my kid don't need to be moving at the same pace. They get a homework calendar every month with different little assignments on them, and every freakin' month, that little calendar is like pulling teeth to get it done - the stuff is often quite easy, but James is so un-challenged by it, that he doesn't even care if it gets done or not.

By his schools standards, he's already reading at a grade level that they don't expect until halfway through first grade.

Even still, having said all that, if the option came up, I'd hesitate to move him up a grade. They'd have to do it at the right way and the right time - like someone asked me if I'd do it right now, and if the option were on the table, at this particular minute, I'd say no. We're coming in on the end of the year, so the kids in the class he'd be going in to have had a whole year to know each other, he's had the whole year to know the kids he's in school with, the higher grades have had a years worth of building on what they've all learned, and all that. If they said "Ok, we're gonna let him finish, but he'll come back in the fall as a second grader", I'd be a little more interested in hearing them out. So I think some of it comes down to timing.

But I appreciate the US system - you have to know your stuff to learn new stuff, that's just all there is to it.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By PogMoGilliesmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 09:54 AM
I'm in the USA. In our schools, we tend to have between 50-150 kids per grade level in each building. Because of that, and because there are only 2-4 teachers per grade level, it is difficult to level students as much as was described in the English system. In each classroom, the school tries to create a mix of students, having equal or close to equal numbers of boys and girls, students who are high, average, and low, and splitting up behavorial problems. The goal is that each classroom is balanced with the others, so that you don't end up with a teacher who has all high achieving students who looks like an amazing teacher, and a teacher who has all the trouble students who struggles all year and looks incompatent.
Of course this doesn't alway work, but that's the goal.
From there, each classroom teacher is supposed to create leveled activites for all achievment levels in the classroom, though some schools will then create levels across classrooms for reading and math.


Now, in the US there is a second issue that is beginning to rear it's head. Parents are chosing to not start their kids in kindergarten until they are 6, so that their kid gets a "leg up" meaning they will start kindergarten knowing how to read and do easy math, so they start in the high reading and math groups. Also, it means their kids are bigger, so they do better in athletics further along in school.
However, so many people are doing this, that the advantage is lost, and we're just going to end up with a buch of 19-20 year old high school seniors.
I have no problem with waiting to start school if your kid is emotionally or socially not ready at 5 for kindergarten, but that's not the issue these parents are looking at.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 07, 2012 11:24 AM
In my experience, there is no leveling. You have 100 kids in the same grade, they're evenly divided with no attention paid to ability. In elementary school, most schools have both special ed and gifted ed, where you're pulled out for part or all of the day to work in smaller groups if you fall into either of those categories (most kids won't). All mainstream schoolwork is standardized, so the kids who barely didn't make it into gifted ed and the kids who barely avoid special ed are learning the same things.

The problem, in my experience, isn't elementary school. Once you get to middle school and high school, most schools drop their gifted education and their special education classes become much less effective. Your options, as a gifted student, are "advanced" classes but they still are rooms of 30+ kids learning only slightly advanced material. In high school, you have AP classes, but most teachers are solely focused on getting you to pass the test.

Special education is even worse for middle/high school. My younger sister went to one of the best special ed programs in the midwest, specially designed for kids with aspergers. They did nothing. They goofed off, and their work was in no way challenging. So, if that was one of the best in the state, I cringe to think of what standard special ed classes are like. Those who just can't keep up period are put in alternative school, where the goal is to get them to do the bare minimum and get them out of there with a diploma.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 11:48 AM
In the U. S., in theory at least (GWB and no child left behind?...)these issues are determined by the states, not the federal government, within certain broader guidelines. There is often a difference state to state, or even between school districts in the same state. Like all things related to humans, large and small, there are so many factors that influence these decisions they are better made with flexibility.

My own opinion? Get rid of No Child Left Behind. It forces too many districts to teach to the test, instead of teaching children how to learn. Also my own opinion, parents have to play an active roll in the education of their own children from beginning to end. When my kids went away to college, I still tried to read some of the books they were studying just to be able to participate in a conversation with them about their studies. Parents may not be educators, but no one knows their own children as well as parents do.

To answer the original question...I believe developmental abilities are broader than academic accomplishments measure, so in the early years, I believe it is better for the students to be put in all inclusive classrooms with children the same chronological age. Summer school and remedial help should be utilized to help the kids with difficulties keep up. However, once a kid is of high school age, it is reasonable to insist on meeting educational milestones to move up. Basic math, reading, and writing skills are important to everyone in every profession and to give out high school diplomas as if they are party favors is a disservice to all involved.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Social promotion versus grade retention (karma: 1)
By kandykanePremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 04:12 PM
Edited by kandykane (157761) on 2012-05-07 16:18:16
My nephew is being held back this year. (3rd grade) He was very upset about it because kids are mean and they WILL make fun of him and tell him he's dumb, stupid, etc. for being held back. The only thing that made him feel better about the situation was when he was told (by his parents) that he would then have an advantage in sports. He would be the oldest, biggest, strongest. Now, he's all for the idea. Tell me, what does THAT say to a kid??

P.S. Gifted programs in my local schools are a JOKE. A bad one. Too many kids are allowed in and often very smart kids are left out. They have less work, instead of harder work.

kk~
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By slice
On Mon May 07, 2012 05:01 PM
^ As sort of a jump-off to that, there are actually parents who will purposely hold their kids back, either before they enter school or even during grade/middle school in order to give their kids an athletic advantage. A friend of mine knew of at least a couple kids whose parents had done in middle school that since her district had/has a big wrestling program. Kinda messed up.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Munkensteinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 08:23 PM
In my mind it's kind of pointless until some sort of year round schooling schedule is widely accepted in the country where I live...we spent a large chunk of each fall semester re-learning the things that most people forgot over the summer.

Thankfully we lived in a place with good schools when I started elementary...the school gave me the "gifted" test in kindergarten and I was in the class up through sixth grade. We moved to another state and there wasn't so much of a "gifted" program as there was the chance to take a few courses at the next grade level up...of course we moved again and my new school wouldn't count the credit and I repeated the classes anyway. Yay American public school system...sigh. I didn't fit the status quo and was one of those kids who didn't really enjoy school until I got to college.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By hummingbird
On Mon May 07, 2012 09:00 PM
Kekoa wrote:

I think that the worrying about peer groups is a lot of poppycock. Unless you're held back twice, you'll still be with your peers.


With all due respect I was skipped ahead, so was my husband, both of us suffered horrendous bullying as result of being the youngest child in the class. I was lucky, I was at a day school, I could get away from my tormentors but my husband was at a boarding school and lived with them 24/7 there was no going home to get relief.

I do agree though that if you keep children of the same age together you need to separate them out into ability levels, just the same as you do with dancers. This is standard practice in the UK and Ireland and this is done from the age of 11, the school leaving age is 16 in the UK and in Ireland you can leave at 16 but you will only have your Junior Cert exams, not your Leaving Cert.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon May 07, 2012 11:39 PM
States control the school systems, and school boards are manged by local (municipal) governments. It's a bit of a misnomer to say there is an overall "U.S. system" because there really isn't.

My high school diploma says that I met a requirement set by the State of New Jersey. It literally cites the law right there on the paper. It does not say I attended 12 years of school. I passed by HSPAs and earned my credits, hence I graduated.

I believe that a bit too much blame is put on NCLB. There were standardized tests before then. NCLB may have made things worse but things had been trending in that direction for a while. I remember taking a standardized test at a very young age, and then again in fourth grade. According to Wikipedia, this was the ESPA, now NJASK. In eigth grade we took the GEPA (now NJASK8), and in high school, the HSPA. These were not the only standardized tests we took - there were preparatory HSPAs and many others in-between. Now the schools weren't necessarily given funding or whatever based on these exams but whether or not you moved up or down a grade level was taken into consideration based on your scores.

You cannot graduate high school without passing the HSPA, point blank. (In this aspect, the test is similar to NY's Regents.) I was too young at the time to know the significance of the other test but my point is I hesitate to say it's all NCLB because I remember sitting down for a week of standardized testing when I was 8 years old. Not to get into the debate about standardized tests or whatever, but it was pretty screwy to think about now. I had to make a poster and give a presentation and all this weird stuff. That section of the test is phased out now.

Bridgetbee wrote:

^Just out of interest, in American schools do you have the levels system that I described in my last post? Or are you in randomly assigned classes that don't take academic ability into account?

In elementary school you would be pulled out of class if you were in Remedial coursework for a specific class. For example, there was remedial reading, and I was in a remedial math class for a few years (they didn't call it that but I can't remember the euphemism). There were also Gifted & Talented, or G&T, classes for Math. There was also G&T General.

In middle school there were more tracks available but mostly for math. I don't believe there was any separation out for Language Arts (or else I would've been in it!). There were also G&T General classes but I had friends who were in these and they seemed puzzled at what they were supposed to achieve - it was pretty useless. They did some special research projects and participated in some conferences, but it was more like a club than a class. By eighth grade I was in an Advanced math class which was the highest of 3 tracks.

High school finally expanded the system. Not every class, but most classes had 3 track options: regular, College Prep and Honors (sometimes Advanced Placement, which is a whole 'nother thing). Below this there were remedial-level courses which I don't know anything about, you had to be really, really bad to get into those. Some core courses (like History or English) you had to take and couldn't get into a higher-level course. Just like in college, when you became an upperclassman more options were available (for example, I had to take English 2 as a sophomore, but as a junior I took Honors Major British Writers). Whenever possible I took Honors courses.

In terms of mixing, I don't know the system involved for selecting the classes, but pretty much every class was mixed-level. In middle school the class of 600 or so was sorted into 3 "teams," and the whole team saw the same group of teachers and had their classes in a certain area of the school and so on. There is probably some algorithm involved to make sure there was a healthily mixed amount of students in each group.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By RileyA
On Wed May 09, 2012 05:51 PM
Advanced placement classes are very rare in Australia. You will have a set number of classes and everyone will be in the same class regardless of ability. The only exception tends to be Maths where you may be streamed into different ability classes in lower high school ( grades 7-9) and choose different levels of Maths in upper high school (years 10-12).

In other area's in upper high school you can choose your subjects so a more gifted student would choose harder subjects and a poorer student would choose easier subjects but there is no variation of levels between a subject.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By dancin_til_death
On Wed May 16, 2012 05:46 AM
I don't think social progress should be ignored for what the teachers want. I always found school easy, I could read and write before I went to school. At the end of year 1 the school wanted me to skip year 2. At the time all I wanted was to stay with my friends and my Mum had to fight to keep me with them. I am still studying medicine today, didn't affect me adversely at all.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By Meganmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri May 18, 2012 04:48 PM
In my province, there is a "level" system within high school. A child can take courses ending in -6 or -4 and earn a lower certification than a regular high school diploma (Math 16, for someone in tenth grade, or Math 24 for someone in eleventh, for example), or there are also options within the regular diploma (however, taking the lower level won't get you into university.) So someone who's not great at English might take English 30-2 instead of English 30-1 (the highest level) in twelfth grade. High schools also offer honours classes like Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate. Math is split the same way, into -1 ("Pure" math, or theoretical) and -2 ("Applied" math.) So within any given grade, a person can take classes at a variety of levels. Also, you can choose when to take your classes. I had to take a couple 20-level (grade eleven) classes in my grade twelve year because I spent half of my grade eleven year in Germany. So in high school, at least, it's very much like a university in that you just need to take all the required classes and gather enough credits to graduate, regardless of when you take them and how long it takes you (and I know a few people who took a "grade thirteen" year to finish up and take extra sciences, for example.) It seems like the best of both worlds.
re: Social promotion versus grade retention
By RibenaRockstar
On Sun May 20, 2012 03:50 AM
Someone mentioned that in the UK wie get round the problem with streaming.
But that's only one way.

Where I live we have a selective system where at age 10/11 you sit a test which determines if you go to grammar school or not. About 30% of the cohort go to grammar school, which in my opinion is too high, if you raised the bar then the average attainment in both schools might increase.

Within my school (a grammar of c. 150 pupils per year) there was no setting/ streaming/ levelling in anything except Maths, and that was only from year 9 to 11 (age 14 to 16). For languages, if there happened to be two Spanish groups in the same timetable slot they were settled I think.

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