To protect childrenís self-esteem or deflect complaints by parents, many public schools today automatically advance failing students to next grade level. In other schools, some students are left back a maximum of one year, then promoted again regardless of their academic skills.
The No Child Left Behind Act tries to solve this problem. The federal government is pressuring public schools to set minimum standards that each student must pass before advancing to next grade.
However, in spite of these new laws, many states still have semi-automatic advancement based on studentís overall per-formance. Many schools consider a studentís "portfolio" of work, attendance record, or other mitigating factors. Based on these factors, school may advance students to next grade, even though they do poorly on their tests or read at a previous grade level.
For example, a dedicated California 7th-grade math teacher wrote to Dr. Laura Schlessinger, radio talk-show host, about this problem. She said that about 30 percent of her students did not do their daily homework assignments, but she could do nothing about this. That is because California Education code forbids teachers from "punishing" students for failing to do their homework.
She also said that students are "not retained" if they fail one class or fail all their classes. "Not retained" is a polite way of saying not left back.
Students may not want to do their homework because it bores them to death, but these kids are smart anyhow. Why should they bother doing homework or studying hard if they advance to next grade no matter how bad they do in class? That would be dumb, and these kids are not dumb.