ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis school system plans to crack down on the advancement of unprepared students to the next grade after a critical state audit highlighted the district’s overreliance on the practice known as social promotion.
The Associated Press
The September report by Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich found the city school system in violation of a state law requiring students to be held if their reading levels are a year below grade level.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Monday that parents of struggling students now will be alerted earlier to the need for improvement and asked to send their children to summer school. The district also will require standard reading assessments in middle and elementary schools.
Roughly 2,000 elementary and middle school students in city public schools earn the lowest possible score on state reading exams annually. This year, fewer than 7 percent were held back.
“The district is assuring that the policy of the district approved two years ago is fully implemented,” Superintendent Kelvin Adams said, referring to a policy that spells out the skills students at each grade level must master. “Will that result in more kids being held back? The answer may be yes.”
One state law applying only to St. Louis Public Schools requires the district to not promote any student whose reading level is more than one year behind. Another law applying to all schools in the state prohibits fourth-graders from advancing to fifth grade if they are reading below a third-grade level.
Test results from the 2013 Missouri Assessment Program show that 5,437 fourth-graders across Missouri — about 8 percent — scored the lowest possible level of “below basic” in the reading section. Yet only 224 fourth-graders statewide were held back this year, according to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.