Summer School: Day of Reckoning
Final decisions were made this morning about which sixth-graders to promote and which to retain. There were only two retentions. One of them, unfortunately, was J-Boy. His poor attendance and his almost perfect record of failing grades for the entire year made it impossible to consider promotion, so we’ll be seeing him in sixth grade again in the fall.
C-Boy pestered me all week about whether or not he was going to be retained. He has an IEP and because I’m the head of our school’s special ed team, the decision to retain or promote was in my hands.
C-Boy was clearly worried, and Thursday I found out why: He had repeated second grade. When I told him there was a possibility that he could be retained again, he said, “Then I’m going to drop out.”
His comment made me decide against retention, although I said nothing at that moment. We have a high enough dropout rate in this district without giving kids excuses to leave school.
C-Boy was clearly worried, however, because today for the first time during the whole summer school session, he got serious about reading. We expected every student to read and test on enough Accelerated Reader books to accumulate at least nine points—and preferably 12— by the end of summer school. By this morning, C-Boy had reached only 33 percent of his nine-point goal.
Even though Co-Teacher and I were showing a movie related to the Holocaust and Number the Stars, C-Boy chose to read. All day long he read one book after another. (They were, obviously, short books.) As soon as he finished reading, he’d take the AR test. His lowest score was 80 percent. By day’s end, he had narrowed the gap between his achievement and his goal from 33 percent to 76 percent. Unwittingly, C-Boy had proved that he could do what was expected of him in the classroom, instead of just sitting there looking bored or dozing off.
C-Boy had too many deficiencies in his record to actually promote him to seventh grade, but the team agreed to place him in seventh grade—provided that he participate in mandatory after-school tutoring for the entire year. C-Boy got the news about 30 minutes before the dismissal bell. While he was not happy with the tutoring proviso, he was nevertheless relieved that he doesn’t have to repeat sixth grade.
And I’m relieved that we have probably prevented at least one kid from dropping out.