Kelsey, Burks Introduce Bill to Stop “Social Promotion” of 8th Graders

12 for 12 #8:  Ensuring students have the skills to succeed

(NASHVILLE, TN), November 30, 2011 — State Senators Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and Charlotte Burks (D-Monterrey) today announced the introduction of a bill that will ensure 8th graders have learned the material necessary to start high school.  Senate Bill 2156 will end the practice of social promotion for 8th graders. Social promotion is the common practice of passing students to the next grade level even though those students have not mastered the material.

The bill today expands upon Public Chapter Number 351 by Sen. Burks, which passed last year and ended the practice of social promotion for third graders. The legislation is the eighth in a series of announcements by Kelsey in his “12 for ’12” initiative for the next legislative session, which is set to reconvene January 10, 2012.

“Our high school students in Tennessee must enter the 9th grade with the skills they need to succeed,” said Sen. Kelsey.  “Passing students regardless of their test scores sets these children up for failure.  It denies them the quality education they deserve.”

Currently, over 20,000 students in grades 4 through 8 are promoted to the next grade every year without demonstrating a basic understanding of the curriculum or the skills tested by the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, the end of year test administered in grades 3 through 8.  Approximately 1,600 of those students are promoted from 8th to 9th grade.

Florida, which has proven a leader in education results, passed a similar bill in 2002.  Students there who repeated third grade performed better than they would have if they had been passed to a higher grade.  The improvement was measurable within only two years, according to a Colorado University study.  The practice has also helped reduce racial gaps in education.  Latino students in Florida now outperform all students in Tennessee.

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