Schools are out and many students across the province are informed that they are falling behind and either are retained or socially promoted. In most cases these students are born between June and December, and the school system chooses to blame their parents for poor family planning rather than instituting a minor organizational adjustment ensuring greater success.
Research shows retention rates for students born in the second half of the year are almost triple those born in the first half. Equally important is the negative impact from these lagging students on those who should be excelling but cannot because the school system is so preoccupied with trying to raise the academic standards of students whose only problem is their lower level of maturity.
The two-fold tragedy perpetrated by the school system is that immature students are penalized for beginning school too early and the strong students are held back because our moral imperative is to raise education standards for the weak. We need to help kids at the top more because our leaders in society are mostly from the top.
Our current schooling model wastes tax dollars because we needlessly retain for an extra year and provide remediation programs for many students whose only problem is that they started school less mature than their older classmates.
The simple solution is to introduce the semester system in grade one and having students begin schooling when they are six years old. A 12-month age range (and more) in a grade disadvantages too many students who know where they stand relative to classmates. This is a generalization and exceptions will occur; however, the research is overwhelming.
B.C. implemented this in 1992 because of the Sullivan Commission but it was canceled by the NDP. Today, empirical evidence abounds and waits for some government to introduce a more fair way of learning for our children.
Jim Dueck, Abbotsford