The Philadelphia school board last week approved a plan to soften the district's strict promotion policy.
The new plan, which was approved by the board on a vote of 6 to 1 with two members absent, is part of a larger effort to prevent elementary school students from being retained in grade when they are failing in school. (See Education Week, Nov. 11, 1992.)
The district also hopes to move to mixed-age elementary classrooms that would allow students to progress at their own rates.
In the meantime, the interim plan approved last week prohibits students from being held back in 1st grade and limits retentions in later elementary years. It allows schools to retain a student no more than twice between 2nd and 8th grade.
The new strategy was criticized by one school board member who said he feared it would signal that the district is relaxing its academic standards. The plan replaces a much stricter promotion policy that was instituted in 1985 as part of the Philadelphia district's widely publicized school-restructuring efforts.
A federal judge has approved a modified admissions plan for Auburn University that was developed in response to an earlier ruling that public colleges in Alabama discriminate against black students.
U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy last month said that the largely white school met his mandate to improve higher-education opportunities for black high school graduates by implementing a policy that allows high grade point averages to compensate for low test-score results in admission decisions. Judge Murphy had ruled that Auburn's former requirement--the attainment of at least an 18 on the American College Testing Program examination--discriminated against black students. (See Education Week, Jan. 29, 1992.)
The judge noted that under the new policy, black applicants will still be rejected by the school at a disproportionately high rate, but that the policy should increase representation of blacks at the university by 36 percent.
The judge ordered Auburn to report on the effect of its new policy in a year.