Many states and school districts are implementing 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 that grade. In 2003–2004, the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), which oversees the largest public school system in the country, implemented a new test-based promotion policy for 3rd-grade students and later extended it to 5th, 7th, and 8th graders. The policy emphasized early identification of children at risk of being retained in grade and provision of instructional support services to these students. NYCDOE asked RAND to conduct an independent longitudinal evaluation of the 5th-grade promotion policy and to examine the outcomes for two cohorts of 3rd-grade students. The findings of that study, conducted between March 2006 and August 2009, provide a comprehensive picture of how the policy was implemented and factors affecting implementation; the impact of the policy on student academic and socioemotional outcomes; and the links between the policy's implementation and the outcomes of at-risk students. Two other publications in this series provide a review of the prevailing literature on retention and lessons learned about policy design from top-level administrators across the country.
Source: RAND Corporation
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