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Heubert Suggests Examining NYC Retention Policy

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Professor Heubert said the number of "promotion in doubt" letters sent to City fourth graders may mean investigating the mayor's retention policy.

The "promotion in doubt" letters mailed to 23,163 New York City fourth graders may mean thousands of children may not enter fifth grade next Fall.  With only slightly fewer letters sent this year in comparison to last, Professor Jay Heubert said the mayoral retention policy "certainly warrants further investigation."  Although Mayor Michael Bloomberg ended the social promotion of third graders last year to ensure student preparedness amid a flurry of criticism, the number of letters sent to current fourth graders casts doubt on the effectiveness of the policy.  There was only an approximate two percent decrease in the letters sent this year when compared to last year's mailings.

Heubert, a professor of  politics and education, helped prepare a National Research Council report on the issue of grade retention.  "It is a cause for concern, if the administration believes that everyone who entered fourth grade in the Fall of '04 was ready for fourth grade, that come March of the same school year, as high a percent are in jeopardy as were in last year's fourth-grade class," he said.

The article, entitled "One in 3 City 4th Graders May Not Advance to 5th," appeared in the March 19 edition of the New York Times.

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