Students who graduate from the U.S. public school system are deemed to have been educated, at least to the grade level they have completed. According to PISA, the 2011 student assessment results showed that U.S. high school graduating students only had a 32 percent proficiency rate in math and a 31 percent proficiency rate in reading compared to a 50 percent rate in Korea, Finland and Japan. These findings suggest that students are moving from one grade to another without a solid understanding of that subject.
In many states, students pass to the next grade level with a “D”. That means with only a 60% comprehension level in a subject a student will pass and even receive a diploma. Some schools, including public junior high schools, even use a system called peer promotion, which grants the student an opportunity to correct a test they failed and receive a passing grade. As a result, many students enter high school without a strong foundation or a high degree of competence in subjects. This, unfortunately, becomes a problem for the next level teacher to endure and the rest of the students in the class will suffer the consequences.
According to Michelle Swartz, an Arizona math teacher at Chandler High School, “Some students are thrown at the high school level without retaining 6th, 7th,or 8th grade math, and these students are likely to fail 9th grade math”.
Accountability in education is sorely needed in the U.S. schools. “If we don’t have accountability what’s going to happen when a failing student gets to high school”, stated Michelle. “Many of these students do not have the prerequisites to move on to high school, yet they were passed through peer promotion in junior high.”