Draft resolution: 8th grade promotion.

It is resolved: Staff shall develop and bring to the board new proposed policy which shall specify the criteria for issuing 8th grade promotion certificates, as permitted by A.R.S. 15.701.F and respecting the standards required by A.R.S. 15.701.C.2. These criteria, which should be clear and objective, shall include requirements based on state testing outcomes and, separately and in addition, requirements based on credit and grades earned; they may make separate provision for special education and ELL students. Additional (not substitute) criteria based on attendance and district testing may be included. If adopted by the board, these criteria shall be in force and binding for the issuing of 8th-grade certificates at the end of academic year 2012-13. Staff shall, at the same time, present evidence that the proposed criteria reflect, at minimum, nationally accepted standards for academic achievement for 8th-graders. Recognizing that current students are not responsible for the past practices of the district, the board’s intention is that the new policy create no new barrier, for any student who completes 8th grade in a TUSD school, to the matriculation into a TUSD high school in academic year 2013-14; in particular, the revised 8th-grade certificate shall not be a requirement for admission. Staff should however bring to the board a timeline for full implementation of a policy which establishes the holding of the 8th-grade certificate, potentially with narrowly defined exceptions to be approved by the board, as a prerequisite for advancing to high school. This policy should include guidelines for the notification of students, and their families, who are at risk. The timeline should reflect the need to improve student support and interventions and to clarify promotion criteria, in earlier grades, to ensure that students have adequate and equitable opportunities to meet the criteria for promotion to high school. The board’s ultimate goal is to enhance student achievement to a degree which minimizes the need for retention and which improves all students’ chances of success after they leave the district. Staff shall report to the board, at the end of each academic year, the fraction of 8th-graders at each middle school who have earned the 8th-grade promotion certificate. Separately, staff shall develop and bring to the board new proposed policy which establishes criteria for determining the admissibility to district high schools of pupils from schools outside of the district who do are under sixteen years of age and do not have an 8th-grade promotion certificate, as permitted by A.R.S. 15.701.I. These criteria should generally reflect the criteria which would eventually apply to students matriculating from TUSD schools. If adopted by the board, these criteria shall be in force for admissions to TUSD high schools for academic year 2013-2014. Staff shall bring these proposed new policies to the board by [date]. Staff should also present to the board, on an ongoing basis, strategies to help students attain the 8th grade certificate, including explanation of the resources required for implementation and, if practical, data which support the cost-effectiveness of these strategies.

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