The reflection in the mirror : toward a better understanding of the implications of a no social promotion policy and interventions on student academic outcomes
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The purpose of this study was to examine the strict 'no social promotion' policy in place in a large urban Texas school district (Waco Independent School District (WISD), Waco, Texas), and analyze the possible effects of the new promotion policy on student retention rates, curricular programming and student academic outcomes. This study analyzed past retention research, identified gaps in the research literature and developed a new program model/theory to generate areas for research. Next, trends in WISD Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) scores and number of retentions over time were examined (1994-2001). Third, the study measured student retention and academic outcomes before and after retention as a function of older and newer school district promotion policy standards (1994-2001) in WISD. Furthermore, the study reviewed the context of retention in relation to a strict 'no social promotion' policy. Next, the study developed an analysis of how the strict 'no social promotion' policy was implemented by administrators and the rewards/challenges encountered. Finally, the study examined the relationship between school district promotion policy on program implementation and on student academic outcomes. Unlike research of the past (retention as an independent variable: retention causes/correlated to low self-esteem and dropping out) the independent variables (processes) affecting student academic performance outcomes were identified as: the conditions of learning/new strict 'no social promotion' policy and the opportunities to learn/ implementation of policy and their affect on student academic performance. A Sequential Mixed-Method Type VIII study was used to identify not only the 'underlying' mechanism(s) (inner workings of the implementation) but to identify and describe the context (the right conditions for learning) of the new strict 'no social promotion' policy and relate them to student outcomes. The most important outcomes were: the significant gains in student academic performance, the increased communication with the community at large, and the increased accountability of all involved. The successes were due to several key factors: the new strict 'no social promotion' policy; the implementation of successful programming and instructional strategies; the opportunities to learn each individual student has had, and the retention appeal process developed by WISD.