This chapter follows Chicago's educators and district officials as they explored new approaches, such as ability grouping and social promotion, then settled on a set of policies that would last with little alteration from the late 1930s through the 1960s. As it describes, the schools' approach to remedial education may have been adequate in some schools, but it was an abject failure in inner-city schools. Differences in student achievement were not a new condition in Chicago's public schools. There had always been students who struggled academically. In the nineteenth century, however, most of these children dropped out of school before long. Then, when compulsory education laws became stricter, low-achieving students became more visible, and more troublesome. Beginning in the early twentieth century, Chicago's school administrators went through an elaborate period of trial and error as they developed new strategies for dealing with low-achieving students.
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