In a far-reaching change in culture and strategy, teachers in Memphis City Schools will no longer be allowed to flunk children from prekindergarten through third grade.


Instead, teachers will build a spreadsheet for every student in the City Schools, documenting attendance and classroom achievement and using the data to make sure children learning at grade level stay the course and those falling below get immediate intervention, including summer school, self-paced online tutorials or the help of college-age tutors during the school day.


I, personally, see this as a good change. If the idea was to just not flunk the kids who are behind, it would be bad, but the idea is to get them caught up through one-on-one tutoring and other intensive interventions, while keeping them with their age group. I’d guess that a lot of the kids who are failing are not getting the one on one tutoring at home that the kids who pass get, so this shift in methodology should help fill in that gap.

Also included in the article was this amazing statistic….

“Generally, children who are retained never catch up,” said school board member Freda Williams. “They get the same curriculum again. If there are other challenges the child is facing, and they are not addressed, the child is held back for no good gain.”

In Memphis, both a poor and a majority African-American city, about one-third of the 105,000 City Schools students have been retained at least one year, creating a backlog of students, many of whom never graduate, Hamer said.

The problem starts early. Half of the 8,000 children who entered kindergarten three years ago didn’t make it to third grade.


Wow. Who knew?