The Glen Cove School Board addressed the topic of pupil acceleration and retention at its meeting Monday, hearing recommendations that such decisions should be made primarily in childrens' earliest years of school.
"If a child is held back younger, it's a whole different impact than if it's done later," said Michael Israel, assistant superintendent of curriculum and former pricipal of Landing Elementary School.
He said the decision to separate a student from their peers has to be made on a case-by-case basis, and that doing it in middle or high school can be more detrimental in regards to self-esteem and other issues.
Francine Santoro, principal of Gribbin Elementary School, spoke in favor of that view.
"When children are 4, 5 and 6, we have wiggle room," she said.
Trustee Ida McQuair suggested that a refocused policy include preschool students as well, since that educational level is within the Board's purview.
Superintendent Joseph Laria expressed his support for a revised policy.
"Stronger beginnings make better completions," Laria said. He explained, however, that ultimately the decision is made by a student's parents. The district can recommend that a student stay back or move up a grade, but if the parents refuse, the district can't force it.
The current draft of the proposed new guidelines listed the following principles:
- Children vary considerably in their rate of development.
- Factors that affect pupil progress are: chronological age; communication skills; academic ability; achievement; social, physical and emotional maturity; attendance; motivation and background experiences.
- The programs of instruction within the grade should be differentiated to the individual pupil but based on Common Core Learning Standards.
- Some children will benefit from more time at the elementary level if the curriculum is suited to their needs and if they continue to be socially and emotionally adjusted to the group.
- It is strongly recommended that whenever possible retention is limited to kindergarten, grade 1 and grade 2, with other interventions used to address lack of progress at upper grade levels. When lack of progress continues, retention may be considered at the upper grade levels.
The Board's next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25 at Gribbin Elementary School.