Chicago school chief Paul Vallas called it "educational malpractice." And he has demanded an end to "social promotion" - the practice of moving students along to the next grade regardless of academic progress.
This means hundreds of young Chicagoans, eighth- and ninth-graders, won't be joining their friends for June graduations - or in new schoolrooms next fall. Not unless they can show significant improvement on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills by the end of summer school.
Does the damage to children's self-esteem from the threat of being "held back" outweigh the later damage of realizing they've been given a deficient education?
Chicago's officials have answered, resoundingly, "no!" We suspect they're right. The tough new policy is part of a broader effort to improve the city's struggling schools. It will be hard on some kids in the short term, but it will serve them much better down the line.