Man Battles School Division to Have Boy Held Back a Grade

A Manitoba man believes a boy is behind in school because of a no-fail policy. But, some experts said failing a student can have drastic consequences.
Published on October 28, 2011

A Manitoba man believes a boy is behind in school because of a no-fail policy.

But, some experts said failing a student can have drastic consequences.

John Hueging said the boy has never failed a grade, even though he struggles with the basics.

"As we got more involved with his schooling, we found out he was so far behind in so many things," said Hueging.

Hueging said he asked the principal to hold the boy back a grade.

But, Hueging said he was told the boy would be moved ahead, but not because of his marks.

"He was adamant that he would pass because of what the age was," said Heuging.

He said the teen, who CTV News isn't identifying, knows he won't be failed so he has rarely put in an effort.

"I didn't do homework (and then)…they pushed me into Grade 4," said the student.

Hueging accuses the school division of having a no-fail policy.

The province passed a new law this year, saying that educators cannot pass a student if they don't get the grades.

"A school board is prohibited from adopting a policy that requires promotion of pupils who have not met the expected learning outcomes," states the law.

Rodney Clifton is an education professor.

"The last thing you want to do is put a child into the deep end of the pool when the child can't swim," he said.

Clifton believes a no-fail policy does exist. He said it's leaving some students unprepared.

"Getting into a work environment getting into a college, getting into universities is dependent upon that sort of thing so there are consequences," said Clifton.

But many within the education system said it's better to pass a failing student.

A former dean of education said failing a student can negatively impact a child's self-esteem.

"They carry the stigma with them their whole life," said Wiens.

Wiens, who is also a former superintendent, said repeating a grade can also be a waste of time.

"They usually end up getting the same treatment they got the year before over again and it doesn't work a second time," said Wiens.

Hueging, meanwhile, said the teen is starting to catch up in school, with help making him do his homework.

"We found out he could learn and enjoys learning," said Hueging.

School officials wouldn't comment on the boy's situation, saying they can't talk about specific cases in order to protect students' privacy.

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