Kids face third try in 3rd
New York Daily News
July 18, 2004
A whopping 20% of third-graders who already had been held back flunked
crucial exams this year, which may mean they have to sit through the
grade a third time, the Daily News has learned.
Of the 5,000 third-graders repeating the grade this year, nearly 1,000
failed city English and math exams this April, according to Education
Department statistics obtained by The News.
"I want an individual analysis of what is going on," Chancellor Joel
Klein demanded yesterday.
Klein told The News he will put principals on the hot seat: "What's
happening to this child? Why are they still failing?"
The chancellor said he won't decide the fate of the 939 students right
away - but they might not be promoted.
Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to hold back all third-graders who scored the
lowest of four levels on city tests this year.
The Education Department released school-by-school scores yesterday,
showing that although 11,700 students flunked, only 10,800 are subject
to the policy because the rest are special education or bilingual
students, who are exempt.
At five schools, more than half of third-graders scored Level 1 on both
reading and math exams. But 16 schools boasted no Level 1
Davonte Deans, a 10-year-old third-grader at Public School 157 in the
South Bronx, has been held back twice - once in the third grade and
once in the second grade - and still bombed both exams. "Holding him
back has only lowered his self-esteem and made him violent. He's in a
class with a bunch of little kids he can pick on. He's a bully," said
his mom, Yvonne Deans.
The school told her Davonte may spend another year in the grade, but at
a different school. "They are just going to pass the problem to someone
else," Deans said.
Kids who flunked still have two more chances to move ahead: an appeal
filed by a teacher and a second go-round with the tests after summer
Klein predicted "several thousand" students would win an appeal,
meaning the total number of third-graders held back may end up about
half the 15,000 repeaters officials had predicted.
Kathy Zwiebel Perretta, a third-grade teacher at PS 198 on the upper
East Side, said one of her students failed the reading exam this year
after spending another year in third grade. "I don't think holding her
back again will do her any bit of good," Perretta said.
The 9-year-old girl towers over her tiny classmates and has improved in
math. "She'll just get frustrated," Perretta said.
Klein admitted holding students back indefinitely isn't the answer.
"You can't keep saying to the kids, 'Let's do this one more time,'"