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Half of all summer school students have to repeat a grade

Confronted with heightened standards on the state exams, only half of all summer school students graduated to the next grade this year, city officials said today.

New York State education officials made the annual math and English exams more difficult to pass this year after realizing that, over the course of the last three years, the tests had become too easy. As a result, the number of students who failed the exams and had to attend summer school rose from 10,000 in 2009 to about 22,800 this year.

But even after weeks of summer school, the bar remained too high for many students to pass. Roughly 11,500 failed the exams again on the second try and are being held back. The other 11,300 passed the tests and have advanced to the next grade.

Last year, when students sat for the then less-difficult exams, about 80 percent were promoted onto the next grade at the end of summer school.

The Department of Education excludes students with disabilities and those who aren’t fluent in English from its promotion statistics, so it’s unclear how many of these 4,000 students graduated from summer school.

City officials also said that more students were held back after summer school because this is the first year they’ve applied standard promotion policies to fourth and sixth graders. This means that, like students in other grades, if fourth and sixth graders don’t pass the state math and English exams, they have to attend summer school and then re-take the tests. If they fail again, they have to repeat the grade. City officials said the policy’s expanded application accounted for an additional 5,872 students who will have to repeat a grade.