Windy City retention policy doesn’t make
Efforts by the Chicago Public Schools to end
social promotion have failed to help low-performing kids, according
to new studies from the University’s Consortium on Chicago
School Research. The nine-year-old retention policy holds back students
who don’t achieve cutoff scores on standardized tests in the
third, sixth, and eighth grades. They retake the exams in May and
August (a January test was discontinued in 2001)—and upon
passing rejoin their peers.
Even after multiple chances and summer
school, many of the retainees had difficulty, with less than 60
percent reaching the cutoff in 1999. Further, nearly 20 percent
of the third- and sixth-graders landed in special education two
years later. Pupils repeating eighth grade, meanwhile, were more
likely to drop out.—M.L.
Graphic by Allen Carroll