The impact of state promotion policies on teacher practice and decision making : a case study of New York City middle school mathematics teachers.


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The present case study explored teachers’ experiences with social promotion and academic promotion criteria. Studies on the impact that social promotion and retention have on students’ academic success have influenced school districts across the United States to implement academic promotion criteria. This study described and highlighted how the New York City promotion criteria policies impact three middle school, mathematics teachers. This study investigated teachers’ responses to these policies and answered the central question: How do academic and social promotion criteria policies influence teacher decision-making and teaching practice? I used a multiple case study design for this research. This qualitative case study utilized purposive sampling. The data sources included questionnaires and interviews with open-ended questions. The participants were NYC middle school math teachers from charter and public schools. Nine teachers participated in a questionnaire. From the questionnaire responses, I selected three teachers who expressed promoting students who did not meet criteria or changing students’ grades to meet promotion criteria to participate in a multiple case study. I studied and analyzed each case separately and then used cross-case analysis to analyze common themes. The study findings highlighted several themes to note regarding the impact of promotion policies on teacher decision-making and teaching practices from the perspective of the three participants. First, the result indicated that promotion policies do not directly impact teacher decision-making and teaching practice. Second, the results showed that school administrators impact teacher’s decision-making the most, which is also one of the main constraints for teachers. Third, teachers go against their beliefs to carry out instruction from administrators. The research fourth finding is that social promotion significantly impacts students in mathematics because of the virtual progress of math skills and concepts. The fifth finding is that although schools may have social promotion policies in place, it does not mean that they are following them. A sixth finding from the study is that teachers believe that students become frustrated and unmotivated when they repeat a grade. The research seventh finding was that promotion policies need to become more equitable. Finally, students’ math incompetency is rooted in elementary school.



Social promotion. Retention. Middle school mathematics. Middle school. Mathematics teacher. Grades. Teacher decision-making. Administrators. State promotion policies. Impact on teacher decision-making.