City schools try to assure parents on promotion policy

Pupil advancement was tied to passing one test

June 29, 2000|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,SUN STAFF

Faced with a chorus of complaints, Baltimore education officials are trying to reassure parents that their children will not be held back this fall if they're unable to pass one test at the end of summer school.

Many parents, already upset about getting short notice that their children required remedial help, have been worried that schools will make promotion decisions based on a single test.

With the start of summer school, school officials are telling parents thatthe school system will not be rigid about its new standards, and that report cards and classroom performance also will be considered in determining whether a child should repeat a grade.

"We're going to approach it with a lot of flexibility," said Betty Morgan, the schools' chief academic officer. "I understand how parents feel when they're getting a mixed message about their children's performance. If your children have been doing well this year, and if they have been recommended to be promoted, we're not going to suddenly change all that."

The consternation resulted from letters the schools sent last month urging parents of 12,000 second- and fourth-graders to send their children to summer school or risk having them held back.

A number of children had done well in class but scored poorly in reading this spring on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, a nationwide achievement test. Parents were told their children would be required to retake the test at the end of summer school and would not advance if they performed below grade level.

The school system called that a mistake and said principals could consider the child's entire record over the past year. However, schools in the designated central area are following a stricter policy.

Board President J. Tyson Tildon met with a half-dozen parents yesterday and told them that principals would be lenient. However, he made clear that it's time to end the city schools' tradition of passing students even if they're far behind.

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