Acceleration and Retention Policy

Research on Promotion vs. Retention

The research on retention generally supports promotion with intervention over retention. The following is a synopsis of research on promotion and retention.

  • The achievement and adjustment of students who are retained tends to be no better than those of comparable children who are promoted. 
  • Repeating a grade does not ensure that children will overcome the areas of deficiency. 
  • Students who repeat the same material without new instructional strategies tend not to attain the same levels of competence as students who are promoted. 
  • Retained students tend to have a more negative attitude toward school.
  • Students who are retained often develop problems in the areas of personal adjustment and socialization. 
  • Students who have been retained are more likely to drop out of school.
  • Where students have been retained and show significant increases in achievement, there have been marked changes in instructional strategies. 

Additionally, students who are retained but who are not designated or put on an IEP may not have the additional 'grade 13' year for their Grad years (10-12). This additional year can give struggling students a chance to slow their course load down and get the additional support they need in what is presumably the most challenging part of their K-12 education. 

Acceleration

"Acceleration is the practice of placing students at a higher than normal level of instruction to meet their learning needs. It occurs when a teacher provides the student with advanced curriculum, when a student skips a grade, or when a student takes a specific course at a higher level.

Students can be accelerated by grade, when they are advanced in all areas, or by subject. In the latter case a student in Grade 6 may be doing math at an advanced level and language arts at his age level.
The BC Ministry of Education’s policy on Acceleration is that 'while many educators resist acceleration as a strategy, research overwhelmingly supports it. Acceleration has been shown to be positive for both achieving and underachieving gifted learners in the majority of documented cases. (Benbow & Stanley, 1983; Kulik & Kulik, 1992)." (Gifted Education.pdf pg 14)

HCOS supports acceleration as a strategy in the support of gifted students.

Full-Year Acceleration

Teachers who identify students who would benefit from this strategy should:

Speak with their Learning Services Consultant. Online assessments, discussion with parents, teachers, a gifted specialist and regional admin may be part of the process of deciding on using a full-year acceleration strategy.

All final full-year acceleration decisions are made by a Academic Head of School and will be noted by the Academic Head of School as a pinned log entry in the student’s Encom file.

Course Acceleration

Working Ahead:
In grades K-9, students who are "working ahead" and are meeting grade level competencies at a quicker rate may be moved ahead as they finish their current course work, with approval from their teacher.

Skipping: Grades K-9
Acceleration by “skipping" a course or two in a year must have the support of the current teacher, approval of the new course teacher (if different from the current teacher) and approval of the Regional Administrator (RA). It is similar to a course challenge in Grad should be based upon the student’s demonstrated ability in that subject area. Online assessment may be required. The RA's approval should be noted by that RA as a pinned log entry in the student’s Encom file.

Course Challenge: Grades 10 - 12
In Grad, courses may not be skipped, they must submit to a course challenge process.

Retention

“The BC Ministry of Education follows the philosophy of continuous achievement and believes that best practice is to allow all students, regardless of ability, to move from grade to grade with their peer group. At times there may be requests to retain a child in a grade so they can “catch up” prior to moving to the next grade. It is important to note that retention affects the student socially, emotionally and educationally and rarely results in the student catching up to classmates academically. Research supports promotion with intervention over retention” (Reporting Student Progress: Policy and Practice, March 2009, pg. 41).

HCOS promotes students and supports their learning rather than retaining them. Learning supports should be managed in collaboration with the Learning Services (LS) department. Regional Administrators and Grad Advisors should identify at risk students and funnel them toward Learning Services (LS).

Students cannot be retained without approval from the Academic Head of School.

Exceptions

In recognition that December 31st is an arbitrary line that divides one grade from another and that philosophically, parents may wish their "young for their age" student to be held back or their "bright for their age" student to be accelerated, the following exceptions can be made to the above policy. 

  • If a student is born in November or December, they may be held back a year, at the parent's request, without going through the LS process, provided that request is made in their grade K/1 years.
  • If a student is born in January or February, they may work ahead and be accelerated into grade 2 after their kindergarten year, provided their teacher and LS Consultant are in agreement.

Steps to Approval for Acceleration or Retention

For further details, please see Acceleration and Retention Process - LS

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