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Promotion Ceremony Revisions Questioned
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Cardozo Middle School teachers are protesting a change in the requirements for eighth grade students to participate in the promotion ceremony that they feel is adversely affecting student learning at the school.

They presented their objections in a letter dated March 22 and verbally at the Riverbank Unified School District board meeting on April 6.

Until this year, the requirements were - among others - a 2.0 grade point average or better during the eighth grade; pass two of three proficiency tests in math, writing and reading; pass all classes (no F grades) and have no more than two suspensions or a five-day suspension in the fourth quarter.

To participate in the promotion ceremony, according to the teachers' letter, students also had to attend school daily with a minimum of sick days; and have no more than 10 unexcused absences or a total of 20 during their eighth grade year.

This year, however, there are no requirements an eighth grade student must meet to participate in the ceremony. Students are not being held accountable to any standards and all eighth graders will be able to participate in the promotion ceremony.

Many students, the teachers complain, have been asking teachers about the promotion ceremony requirements.

One student question was, according to teachers: "So I can do whatever I want and still be able to participate in the promotion ceremony?" Another question was: "So I don't have to do any of my work and I can still participate in the promotion ceremony?"

The teachers' responses to these questions are "attend school everyday, work hard, and put forth your best effort."

The debate at the board meeting emphasized the change is only in the promotion ceremony, not in the promotion itself. Provided students meet the academic requirements, they will all receive certificates and promotion to high school - normally only two or three are held back to repeat a grade. They receive certificates whether or not they are allowed to "cross the stage" at the promotion ceremony.

The teachers, in their letter, said they believe in strong expectations for students and asked the board to reinstate requirements for the promotion ceremony. They also requested teachers be involved in discussions on the subject.