The BPS Promotion Policy

  • BPS is committed to ensuring that every graduate is a lifelong learner, a productive worker, responsible citizen, and thoughtful participant in our diverse communities. Every teacher, administrator, parent/guardian, and other adult involved in the lives of BPS students shares in the responsibility to help all students meet these expectations. 

    The Promotion Policy reinforces the expectations and responsibilities set forth in the BPS Citywide Learning Standards. The Promotion Policy:

    • defines the expectations we hold for all students and the strategies that schools will use to help them succeed,
    • ensures that promotions are earned and based on academic achievement,
    • reduces as much as possible the need for students to repeat a grade,
    • ensures that students start each school year with the skills and knowledge they need to do grade-level work and that graduates are well prepared for higher education, adult life, and employment,
    • ensures that students are prepared to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests required for graduation,
    • establishes a process that supports students and demands hard work from them,
    • recognizes that students learn at different rates and calls for organizational structures that respond to students’ differences, and
    • defines the ways in which teachers, administrators, students, and parents are accountable.

    Promotion Requirements for All Grades

    • Students must fulfill several requirements to be promoted to the next grade. All students must earn passing grades in certain courses and maintain good attendance. 
    • Schools may establish promotion requirements that exceed those listed here. The School Site Council must approve these additional requirements.
    • BPS is reviewing its graduation requirements in order to better align them with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) expectations and the Massachusetts Core High School Program of Study. View current High School requirements here

    English Learners

    Students in programs for English Learners must meet promotion and graduation requirements. However, EL students may not be retained in their grades if the only reason for not passing the required tests is a lack of English language knowledge. Students will have access to bilingual (word to word) dictionaries during all standardized assessments except those assessing English language skills and knowledge. English Learner students in their first year of enrollment in school in the U.S. are not required to take the MCAS ELA assessment as long as they have participated in the annual English language proficiency assessment for English Learner students.

    English Learners, like all students, must meet district requirements for graduation and promotion. If a student is entering BPS as a high school student, it is highly recommended that families submit a school transcript so that BPS can determine if prior coursework may be counted toward graduation requirements. 

    ACCESS for ELLs

    As required by federal and state law, all English Learner students in grades K2-12 are assessed each year with ACCESS for ELLs (Assessing Comprehension and Communication in English State-to-State for English Language Learners). This assessment measures students’ English proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Parents of English Learner students are informed of their child’s progress they are making in meeting English proficiency benchmarks each year. 

    Learn more about ACCESS for ELLs here.


    Students with Disabilities

    Students with disabilities are expected to meet promotion and graduation requirements. A student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan describes the conditions under which the student will take standardized tests for each subject scheduled for assessment, or if the student requires an alternate assessment. Alternate assessments are intended for a very small number of students with significant disabilities who are unable to take standard MCAS tests, even with accommodations. A student’s 504 plan will describe what, if any, testing accommodation will be needed.


    Passing Grades in Courses

    Teachers base the grades they give to students on several factors, including:

    • scores on classroom tests
    • completion of required products—for example, a book report or science project. The Promotion Policy says students’ grades on these products will count for at least 20% of their year-end grades
    • homework assignments
    • participation in class discussions and activities
    • notebooks
    • citywide tests in English, math, history/social studies, and science/technology.

    A passing grade for any course, classroom test, or assignment is 60% or higher. 

    Keeping Track of Progress

    Parents can stay informed about their children’s progress through:

    • report cards (report card schedule)
    • parent-teacher conferences
    • individual reports on results of state tests
    • review of homework, tests, and notebooks
    • progress reports for students with disabilities, distributed with report cards, that describe how students are doing in meeting the goals outlined in their IEPs.
    • Review your student’s Aspen SIS information. Families and students can log in to monitor student academic progress and engage with their schools.
    • For English Learners, parents receive an end of year report on the progress made by their child in learning English.  If your child has not made progress, the district is required to inform you of the options and resources needed to support your child. This may require a meeting with the teacher and principal. It is very important that you read and respond to the letter.