The state Board of Education is pushing to end what they call social promotion. It's a widely used and highly criticized policy of passing students onto the next grade who are barely scraping by just to keep their self-esteem up.
If in place last year 400,000 more students would have been retained. Currently state law only requires mandatory retention in third grade. This change would require it across the board. Bay County has standards for retention, but nothing as strict as what the state board has in mind.
Retention can be a scary word, especially when it comes from your child's teacher. For those students that need some extra time in third grade, Lynn Haven Elementary has a transition class.
Lee Ann Stafford, Principal of Lynn Haven Elementary, says, "We put the child in a fourth grade class and gave him third grade work. Then when he qualified for a mid-year promotion he stayed in the same class with the same peers, there was no stress and no stigma."
The kids in this class are low performing fourth graders and retained third graders. It's basically a borderline class that offers more one-on-one with a teacher or a para-professional, and it's a program the school could expand as retention standards are raised, except for 5th graders.
"It concerns me because the child could be really old for our school. I'd be concerned for their self-esteem."
Stafford and others hope the state board puts in a provision for youngsters too old for elementary school. The plan still needs approval from the Legislature. The State Education Board hopes to phase it in over the next 10 years.