Students catching up

Criticism of social advancement in schools -- sending students to the next grade whether or not they have made passing grades -- is common. We are less likely to hear of the problems confronted by students who fail a grade and are left behind by their peers.

Rock Hill's new "Phoenix Bound" program directly addresses that issue. The program is designed to allow eighth-graders who earlier failed a grade to take extra courses and catch up with students their age in the 10th grade. The program was tested with four students at Castle Heights Middle School last year, and the program will accept up to 12 eighth-graders this year.

They will start off by taking a high school-level earth science class during the first semester in addition to their regular eighth-grade classes. Next semester, they will be enrolled in Crossroads, a Phoenix Academy program, where they will earn three more high school credits.

If they have successfully complete the program, they will start 10th grade next fall with their friends.

District officials stress that students fail a grade for a variety of reasons, not just disciplinary or scholastic problems. Some have health problems, family problems such as a death in the family or other reasons they might fall behind.

"Phoenix Bound" is a second chance for students who are motivated to rejoin their peers and graduate on time. Students who hope to enter the program must sign an agreement saying they will uphold their end of the bargain, showing up for school on time and keeping their grades up.

We congratulate the district for providing a program to deal with this specific need. And we applaud students who have the ambition and drive to take this difficult program.

'Phoenix Bound' helps students who fail a grade catch up and rejoin their peers.