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Ending Social Promotion Without Leaving Children Behind

Ending Social Promotion Without Leaving Children Behind: The Case of New York City

Jennifer Sloan McCombs
Sheila Nataraj Kirby
Louis T. Mariano
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 308
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  • Book Info
    Ending Social Promotion Without Leaving Children Behind
    Book Description:

    The New York City Department of Education asked RAND to conduct an independent longitudinal evaluation of its 5th-grade promotion policy. The findings of that study, conducted between March 2006 and August 2009, provide a comprehensive view of the policy's implementation and its impact on student outcomes, particularly for students at risk of retention and those who were retained in grade.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4940-7
    Subjects: Education, Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-xii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xxi-xxx)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxi-xxxii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Jennifer Sloan McCombs and Louis T. Mariano

    In an era emphasizing educational standards and accountability, many states and districts are moving toward test-based requirements for promotion at key transitional points in students’ schooling careers, thus ending the practice of “social promotion”—promoting students who have failed to meet academic standards and requirements for their grade.¹ Retention, in contrast, is a practice that holds back students who have failing grades or who fail to meet promotion criteria, which are often linked to standardized assessments. These “test-based” promotion policies typically use standardized tests as the main criterion to make high-stakes decisions about whether a student should be promoted to...

  10. CHAPTER TWO What We Know About the Effects of Grade Retention and Implementation of Promotion Policies
    (pp. 7-16)
    Nailing Xia and Sheila Nataraj Kirby

    As part of the overall study, we conducted a systematic and rigorous search of the literature on grade retention—in particular, that on the characteristics of retained students and the short- and longer-term effects on student outcomes (both academic and nonacademic). The full set of findings is documented in Xia and Kirby (2009), which also provides a brief summary of each of the 91 articles that met the criteria for inclusion in the review.

    Given that the genesis of the literature review was the larger evaluation of NYC’s promotion policy, we were also interested in literature that examined the design...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Context and Conceptual Framework for Understanding New York City’s Promotion Policy
    (pp. 17-32)
    Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Julie A. Marsh and Catherine DiMartino

    Examining the implementation and effects of the NYC promotion policy requires understanding not only NYC’s implicit theory of change, but also the larger city, state, and federal context against which the policy was implemented. In addition, there is a set of factors and actors that must be aligned for the policy to work as intended. This chapter begins by discussing the broader set of city reforms, then provides a detailed description of the 5th-grade promotion policy as a way of understanding NYC’s theory of change. We then outline a conceptual framework for understanding the set of actors and factors that...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Data and Methods
    (pp. 33-54)
    Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Louis T. Mariano and Jennifer Sloan McCombs

    The conceptual framework outlined in the previous chapter guided our data-collection efforts. We collected data from a variety of sources over a three-year period. These sources included the following:

    interviews with RDISs and SSO leaders

    case studies of a small sample of schools, SPAs, and SSAs

    administrator surveys

    surveys of selected samples of students

    data on school characteristics

    longitudinally linked data on several cohorts of 5th- and 3rd-grade students.

    Next, we discuss each of these sources in greater detail.¹

    In 2007, we conducted telephone interviews with the 10 RDISs using a semistructured protocol. Interviews lasted between 30 and 60 minutes....

  13. CHAPTER FIVE School-Provided Support for Students: Academic Intervention Services
    (pp. 55-80)
    Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Scott Naftel, Gina Schuyler Ikemoto, Catherine DiMartino and Daniel Gershwin

    The NYCDOE 5th-grade promotion policy calls for schools to identify students who are at risk of being retained under the promotion policy and provide them with additional AIS to prepare them to meet the criteria for being promoted to the 6th grade. Schools are also expected to notify parents regarding their child’s status and prepare appeals portfolios for students who score at Level 1 in ELA or mathematics on the spring assessment.

    As mentioned earlier, one of the key components of the promotion policy was early identification of students who were at risk of retention and the provision of AIS...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Implementation of the Policy: Saturday and Summer Schools
    (pp. 81-100)
    Gina Schuyler Ikemoto, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Catherine DiMartino and Scott Naftel

    As originally implemented, two key components of the 5th-grade promotion policy were the SPAs and SSAs, through which struggling students were provided with additional instructional time and supports. The SPAs were intended to provide students needing services with between 17 and 24 Saturday sessions beginning in October that included three hours of ELA and mathematics instruction. As described in Chapter Three, by 2007–2008, SPAs were no longer centrally administered; instead, principals decided whether to offer a Saturday school program in their schools. SSAs served students who failed the spring assessments and thus were at risk of retention in the...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Performance of 5th Graders in New York City and Overall Performance Trends in New York State
    (pp. 101-126)
    Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Scott Naftel, Jennifer Sloan McCombs, Daniel Gershwin and Al Crego

    This chapter examines trends in student performance prior to the policy (C0 cohort), under the policy (P1, P2, and P3 cohorts), and across the state as a whole.¹ The results presented here are purely descriptive: Our statistical models that estimate the effect of the promotion policy and its components on student achievement are presented in Chapters Eight and Nine. This chapter answers key descriptive questions regarding the performance of students under the policy: How many students were held to the policy? How many students were “in need” of services? How did students perform on the spring assessments? How did students...

  16. CHAPTER EIGHT Measuring the Effect of Supportive Interventions on Proximal-Year Student Achievement
    (pp. 127-142)
    Louis T. Mariano, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Al Crego and Claude Messan Setodji

    In this chapter, we examine the proximal-year academic outcomes of 5th graders treated under the promotion policy, i.e., the spring assessment outcomes of students identified as in need of services at the beginning of the year and the summer assessment and retention outcomes of students identified as at risk based on spring performance. The next chapter examines future outcomes of treated 5th-grade students. Appendix E presents the results of similar analyses of 3rd graders. Table 8.1 presents the research questions addressed in this chapter and maps them to the methods we use to answer them.

    Two natural comparison groups are...

  17. CHAPTER NINE Future Outcomes of Students at Risk of Retention
    (pp. 143-164)
    Louis T. Mariano, Sheila Nataraj Kirby and Al Crego

    Chapter Eight examined the proximal-year outcomes for students who needed services at the beginning of the school year and those who were at risk of retention based on their performance on the spring assessments. In this chapter, we are interested in examining the future outcomes of students in need of services at the beginning of the school year, those who were at risk of retention, and those who were retained in grade once,¹ relative to their predicted performance in the absence of treatment under the policy. Table 9.1 presents the research questions addressed in this chapter along with the methods...

  18. CHAPTER TEN The Impact of New York City’s Promotion Policy on Students’ Socioemotional Status
    (pp. 165-182)
    Vi-Nhuan Le, Louis T. Mariano and Al Crego

    One of the key concerns regarding the use of grade retention as an intervention is the potential impact on students’ socioemotional outcomes. This chapter examines the social and emotional outcomes of three groups of students held to the promotion policy: (1) students who were at risk of retention and retained, (2) students who were at risk of retention but promoted (hereafter referred to as “at-risk promoted” students), and (3) students who were not at risk of retention and promoted (hereafter referred to as “not-at-risk” students). We surveyed students regarding three measures of socioemotional functioning—namely, school belonging, mathematics confidence, and...

  19. CHAPTER ELEVEN Conclusions and Policy Implications
    (pp. 183-194)
    Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Jennifer Sloan McCombs and Louis T. Mariano

    The NYC public school system is the largest in the country, with about 1.1 million students, 79,000 teachers, and more than 1,400 schools. As part of an ambitious citywide initiative to improve student performance, NYCDOE implemented a test-based promotion policy for students in grades 3, 5, 7, and, most recently, 8. General education students in these grades are required to meet promotion criteria on the ELA and mathematics assessments in order to be promoted. The grade promotion policy is not based on a sole criterion: Students may demonstrate basic proficiency in ELA and mathematics either through their performance on standardized...

  20. APPENDIX A Technical Appendix for Achievement Models
    (pp. 195-202)
  21. APPENDIX B Supporting Data for Chapter Five
    (pp. 203-218)
  22. APPENDIX C Supporting Data for Chapter Seven
    (pp. 219-228)
  23. APPENDIX D Supporting Data for Chapter Ten
    (pp. 229-238)
  24. APPENDIX E Data and Analyses for 3rd-Grade Cohorts
    (pp. 239-262)
  25. References
    (pp. 263-274)