Bill would end social promotion in TN schools - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill would end social promotion in TN schools

Social promotion is a controversial practice. So it's no surprise that one legislator's bill to end social promotion of 8th graders in Tennessee is just as controversial. Social promotion is a controversial practice. So it's no surprise that one legislator's bill to end social promotion of 8th graders in Tennessee is just as controversial.

(WMC-TV) – Social promotion is a controversial practice. So it's no surprise that one legislator's bill to end social promotion of 8th graders in Tennessee is just as controversial.

Come January 10, the Tennessee State Legislature will debate a new bill by Germantown Senator Brian Kelsey to end social promotion of 8th graders.

"This bill is about making sure our students have the skills they need to succeed in school," Kelsey said.

Currently, failing 8th graders are still promoted to the 9th grade to keep students with others in their age group. Senate Bill 2156 would change that.

"It ends social promotion going from 8th to 9th grade and it strengthens the bill that we passed last year ending social promotion going from 3rd to 4th grade," he said.

Kelsey said the bill would add testing to the equation.

"Ultimately, testing at the end of summer school will tell us whether or not our remediation is working," he said. "We need to know if it's working before we move these students along to the 4th grade."

Critics of Kelsey's bill cite studies that show students held back are more susceptible to dangerous behavior such as drinking and sex. They also say that there's no evidence retention actually works, and that retained students are more likely to drop out of school because they feel left out.

"I think this bill would help lower dropout rates tremendously because students usually drop out in high school and this bill would ensure they have the skills they need to be successful once they get there," Kelsey said.

He said other studies show promoting a student simply for social reasons sends the wrong message.

"Whether students are moving on from the 4th grade or the 9th grade, if they do not have the skills to succeed, we're just basically setting them up for failure," he said.

Kelsey, a Republican, said the bill has bipartisan support.

Either way, the state Senate has a Republican majority.

If passed, the ban on social promotion would go into effect this coming summer.

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