October 20, 2008
Should middle school students have to earn credits in specific courses in order to graduate and enter high school? That’s what middle school teacher Adam Berlin proposes in a column in EdWeek:
A graduation credit system that included grades 7-12 would help establish the academic accountability currently lacking in middle schools. In such a system, middle school students, needing to earn credits toward graduation, would repeat failed classes as they do in high school. Ideally, they also would come to understand at the age of 11 or 12—not as 14-year-olds—that it is important to study and do your work.
He says that social promotion is problematic for allowing students to coast into high school without necessary skills. But retaining students is also problematic, he writes, because students who are held back have to repeat courses they’ve passed in addition to those they’ve failed.
Berlin proposes that students make up failed courses in the summer. Summer school would focus on key concepts and skills from the failed course, rather than trying to review all course content, and would also emphasize skills needed for the following year’s course. And summer work would culminate in alternative assessments that would allow students to demonstrate key content and skills, rather than comprehensive final exams.
Should we make middle school promotion work more like high school? What do you think?