The San Diego schools is the largest school district in the state. Last year, nearly 13 percent of its 8th graders stopped working two or more core subjects of English, mathematics, history and/or science. This does not include those who received Ds. They were all grades of F.
The San Diego schools is breaking down. Beginning with the existing eight grade classes within the San Diego schools, these students will be subject to a new policy recently gone by the San Diego schools board with a vote of four-to-one. A new retention policy presents that any eight grader who fails (grade of F) 2 or more core topics will be kept back to repeat the 8 grade. If the parents of such San Diego schools’ trainees object, then those children will be passed on to high school but should actively participate in a ninth grade intervention program.
There was much heated conversation about retention versus social promotion (passing San Diego schools’ students on to the next grade, when they are not prepared) prior to the vote was taken. The one dissenting vote was by San Diego schools’ board trustee Shelia Jackson, who argued that the causes for such failures ought to be attended to before penalizing the students. She kept in mind that the kids did not stop working by themselves– instructors, parents and therapists took part, also.
Some San Diego schools board trustees felt that the threat of retention would give the failing eighth graders incentive to work more difficult and get back on track. Jackson felt they were punishing the students for possible inadequate teachers or mentor methods.
All San Diego schools board trustees did agree that intervention programs for failing trainees need to be executed as early as elementary school to guarantee student success later on in school and profession.
The San Diego schools’board trustees did not discuss exactly what specific intervention programs would be provided to eighth graders who are held back or to those passed to the ninth grade at their parents’ demand. The style of such programs will be left to each specific middle or high school, giving them the ability to tailor their programs to the requirements of the trainees.
Retention is not a new method to help stopping working trainees. It is extensively utilized throughout the country. Even the San Diego schools have actually used it in the past. Nearly 5 percent of the San Diego schools’ sixth and seventh graders (more than 400 children) were kept in 2001 and nearly three percent of very first graders (360 children).
Superintendent Carl Cohn sides with Jackson, questioning if the new retention policy will injure the San Diego schools’ trainees more than help them. He thinks that retention just speeds up the leave rate, and research studies have proven Cohn right– trainees held back are more likely to leave of high school, than those promoted on to the next grade.