Because of greater demands on students brought about by increased emphasis on teaching "basics," more Washington area public school students sre failing to win promotion to the next highest grade, according to school officials.
The number of student's who must repeat a grade this year increased by from 7 to 70 percent over the number last year in local school systems.
The reason, according to school administrators, is the "back-to-basics" approach, emphasizing reading, writing and arithmetic, initiated to combat the and decline in student achievement scores plus teachers' demands for a greater amount of student work.
"I think it (the increase in failures) is a response from the education system to the demands from the commmunity that we go back to the basics," said Fairfax County School Superintendent S. John Davis.
In the Fairfax County schools, thththththe nation's 12th largest school system, 3,438 students failed a grade in the past school year, an increase of 614 students or 2222 percent over the previous year.
Davis said he expects that the increase in failures "will level off over the next year or so."
During the '60s and early '70s, because of the problems of society, there was a strong move to relevancy . . . Things had to be relevant," he said.
As a result, educators say, standards were slackened and teachers began to expect less from their students. A number of courses that dealt with societal rather than academic prroblems were initaied.
In recent months educators have increasingly abandoned the educational innovations of the '60s and begun to stress basic reading and writing.
In Fairfax County, students in English and social studies classes in grades seven through 12 are now required to write at least one error-free composition during each of the four grading periods.
The Fairfax County School Baord recently increase from 11 to 15 the number of specifified credits a student tmust take to graduate, requiring more courses in math, science fine and practical arts and foreign language.
An Arlington school spokesman said increased emphasis on reading and writing is mostly reflected in the grade failures at the elementary level. Overall, grade failures increased by 317. or 70. percent, in Arlington over last year's figure of 452. The ilarggest increase was in the first grade, where 114 pupils failed, compared to 51 the year before.
In Montogomery County, 149 more students failed in the 1976-1977 school year, an increase of 7 percent.
Another 7 percent increase was reported in Prince George's County, where the number of grade failures - 7,728 - was up by 552 over the 7,206 of the school year beford.
In the District of Columbia, the rate of elementary students who failed a grade increased from 6.7 percent in 1976-1977 to 7.8 percent. Other figures on the number of students who failed at Washington elementary and secondary levles were not available.
Statisitics for the number of failures in Alexandria were not available.