When progression is regression

The Denver teachers union has proposed to end social promotion in the Mile High City schools and instead tie students' progress to their scores on standardized tests in third, fifth, and eighth grades. Opponents of the plan worry that it will harm the self-esteem of students who are held back and could encourage those youngsters to drop out. "Unless you've got a very serious set of interventions in place, all retaining kids does is drive the dropout rate up," says Denver Superintendent Michael Bennet. The union agrees, which is why its plan calls for extra services for students with low test-grades and reading scores. And what's the alternative? Allowing students to progress through the grades without, say, being able to do basic math? If you want to talk about a blow to self-esteem, talk about the seventh grader who reads at a third-grade level. There may be more to this story: the union and district are embroiled in contentious contract negotiations. But on this issue, regardless of the politics that may be involved, we're taking the union's side.

"Teachers want more red lights," by Jeremy P. Meyer, Denver Post, September 16, 2007