Negative Effects of Social Promotion

Social promotion is the advancement of students to the next grade level even though they have failed to meet educational expectations or successfully complete course work. It is frequently practiced in American middle schools because of its connection to the fragile self-image and self-esteem issues of young adolescents.

Grade retention is the opposite of social promotion. It is the practice of holding a student back to repeat a grade or specific courses until educational expectations or competencies are met. Though social promotion is considered psychologically a better choice, there are several negative effects that become apparent when compared to grade retention.

Negative Effects of Social Promotion

Social Promotion

Though social promotion addresses the psychological needs of students it has the negative effect of giving the image that effort and educational success does not matter. According to “The Balanced View,” social promotion also can falsely lead parents to believe that their child is prepared to enter the work force or be accepted into a two or four year college.

The negative effects do not end with the parent and student. Businesses spend millions of dollars each year for training perceived to be basic skills that should be taught in school. Colleges are offering more courses, such as basic Algebra and writing classes, that are considered remedial subjects that cover material that should be learned in high school (Balanced View).

Why Some Prefer Grade Retention

The negative effects of social promotion presented above show that some people prefer grade retention. One is that parents and students are falsely lead to believe the child will be prepared for life after school. Another is the financial toll unprepared students place on businesses and colleges by the need to provide what is viewed as remedial training and courses.

Another reason for the preference for grade retention is the current emphasis on high stakes testing. High school graduation in the United States is becoming more dependent upon successful performance on a standardized exam, which is pushing schools to make sure that students know a specified list of material. Grade retention is perceived to be a better choice to make sure students are ready to test, even though the research is not conclusive (Hauser).

Though social promotion is viewed to be better for the developing adolescent psyche, it can result in students leaving school under-prepared for college or work. This puts a burden on both businesses and colleges to provide training perceived to be basic or remedial. Grade retention, however, emphasizes the need for students to reach a predetermined level of knowledge before advancing.

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