By Maurice DuBois

NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) — New York City’s Department of Education says nearly five times as many students in grades three through eight are repeating a grade this year.

The kids now face a higher bar on state tests.

Director Kim Sweet says Advocates for Children of New York has received an “extraordinary number” of complaints about kids being sent back to middle schools “that failed them.”

Department spokesman Matthew Mittenthal tells The New York Times that the city is keeping its strict promotion policies.

Mittenthal says it’s wrong to promote students who are not up to speed. But he concedes that the school system has  “a lot of work ahead.”

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)