Social Promotion in New York

Amanda Geduld:

When high school teacher Rachel King welcomed a new cohort of 10th graders to her classroom in the fall of 2021, she made a discovery: a number of her students had never completed their coursework from the previous year. 

At the time, the 36-year-old taught English at The Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women in downtown Brooklyn. It was her 13th year teaching and her third at the all-girls middle and high school, which serves predominantly Black and Latino children from low-income households.

When schools first shifted to remote learning in March 2020, it quickly became clear that students were struggling to log on to their classes and complete assignments. Thousands lacked access to devices, WiFi, or a quiet place to work. As worry spread that many could get left behind, education department officials announced new academic guidelines. Attendance and testing requirements would be waived for the remainder of the year. No student would fail a course.