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Failing grades; passing kids

by Phil Bartle, PhD

Training Handout

What are the advantages or benefits to society of the practice of social promotion?

Social promotion is the term used to describe the practice of passing a pupil from one grade or level to the next when the child has not completed all the requirements to qualify for that promotion.

The practice is justified by saying the child may obtain damage to her or his psyche.

The disappointment may contribute to the pupil having lower self esteem or a lower sense of self worth.

It is further justified by the notion that it is the responsibility of the school to ensure that pupils are happy and have high self respect.

It can be questioned that social promotion avoids lower self esteem.

If the socially promoted pupil finds out that s/he has been given a promotion without achieving the requirements, that, too, may equally contribute to low self esteem.

It also contributes to people obtaining creditation without having the qualifications implied by the creditation.

In general, and throughout society, if it depends upon those certifications for the distribution of jobs and privileges, it puts unqualified individuals in positions where they are expected to be qualified.

Our urban industrial and post-industrial society is one which relies on creditation, so its strength is reduced.

Drivers who pay for their licenses when they could not pass a driving test, doctors, pilots and persons in life-or-death occupations, get their positions because of their certificates.

If they obtained them without having the qualifications, society may be hindered in its functioning.

The question of why a college or university level instructor would "socially promote" a student takes the concept out of the text book (where it implied something done at the public school levels) and asking if it might apply to the giving of grades to College students.

By extension, it would mean giving a passing grade instead of failure, or a high grade instead of a low grade because that would make a student feel better.

It is my opinion that giving a higher grade than one earned by a student serves no social benefit, or serves negative benefits (costs) to society.

It would allow untrained persons to obtain certificates (or entrance into a university).

Instructors are often approached by students who complain about their grades, because they are upset, or because they need a higher grade to get into the university.

Raising their grades on those bases, instead of their academic achievements, serves to lower the college standards and contribute to more people having certificates that do not reflect their abilities or achievements.

Apart from giving higher grades to make them feel better, if an instructor gives higher grades in return for receiving favours of any kind, it is more than social promotion. It is corruption (bribery) whether what is offered is sexual or monetary or otherwise.

I have worked in many countries where this is a common practice rather than an occasional deviation, but that has not changed my opinion that is serves no social benefit, or rather generates social costs.

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Last update: 2012.06.13

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