Skater actually did pass the prior test
Frankly, this is the most common reason that kids look like they haven't passed. They actually have, legitimately. But they don't get that you have to do it right all the time, not just when some coach is screaming at you, or when it " counts." I don't know why this would be, except lack of practice. It's not like they forget how to read between school days. Or maybe it is- any classroom teachers here who feel like they teach the same lesson over and over because the kids don't retain it after the test?
Skater passed the prior test last year
Also very common. Skaters will come back in at the last level they passed, even if they haven't skated for a year or more. So they've lost the skill. You hate to bump a kid back, and they have to be pretty bad to justify it; it's not worth the ego hit, frankly. My one exception would be freestyle. I think if you haven't been in a given freestyle program for the past 2 or 3 sessions, you should have to test into your level.
Skater jumped several levels back
And it's catching up with her. It is possible to get jumped past PreAlpha or Alpha or Beta, illegitimately, and then actually pass Gamma and/or Delta, because we are not allowed to retest the "lower level" skills in order to hold a kid back. And frankly there would be no point, because you can't really devote class time to reteaching these skills to individual children. It's not fair to the ones with the legitimate passes. But as we've all observed, it catches up with them, especially at the middle freestyle levels.
Private lesson coach is selling you a bill of goods
The private lesson coach has convinced the parents that the class levels are "a waste of time," or "holding them back" or that the skater is "so talented she doesn't need to take that class." Let's see what else-- "I can teach this better/faster." "Privates are always better." Parents take this as gospel and up the kid goes. There is a prevailing attitude that "your child is talented, so she'll catch up." This is absolutely true if you have a coach, and the money, who will do multiple lessons per week (lots of coaches have semi-private groups working on basic skating). If you're not skating much, don't skip the level, don't short the level. Stand your ground and finish the level.
Parent doesn't get it
"I don't understand why you're working on stroking. Isn't that in Alpha? This is Gamma, she's already learned that."Private lesson coach is an idiot
"She taught herself backward crossovers on public last week, so she should jump from PreAlpha 2 to Gamma."
"I was a competitive skater when I was a child, so I want her in Freestyle 1."
"She only wants to work with Coach In-Crowd, and she teaches Delta, so we're going to take that class."
"I can't get her at that time, so we signed up for the class two levels up on Tuesdays, which fits into our schedule"
"She needs to be in class with her friend/brother/cousin. So we signed them both up for Higher Level Class."
But you didn't hear it from me.
Class coach is an idiot
Okay I'll comment. There are coaches who are afraid to hold kids back unless the line is very very clear. They don't want to have to explain to parents why the child isn't passing. They don't know how to respond to comments about all those other kids "who aren't as good as my child, but he passed!" They don't understand the requirement, because they see what you're seeing-- kids without the skills, in the higher levels. They are feeding into a class that a friend is teaching, with an eye toward later telling you that "classes are bullshit." They are afraid to stand their ground on a borderline skill. They don't know how to do group lessons with a wide range of ability-- from beginners to almost passed-- so they bump up the almosts.
Parent lies to program about whether the skater has passed
I've been in programs where we tried to keep track of class tests, or where there were no class tests-- you had to pass on test day in front of a judging panel. Keeping track of tests is very difficult without 100% buy in from the coaching staff, which you're never going to get. And if one coach doesn't cooperate, pretty soon the rest of the coaches are going to say, well she's not doing this extra step, she's getting away with it, so why should I bust my britches. End of system. So you only have the parent's word for it. I've called kids on this and tried to put them back in their proper level, only to have a parent stand there and lie to my face about "the other coach passed him."
Kid lies about test
Yes, there are parents who don't look at the test sheet, so the kid just says that they passed.
Program doesn't monitor the problem
Any business without adequate oversight is going to have problems. In a shop, you'll get "shrinkage"-- disappearing stock-- through neglect or outright theft. Well, this is shrinkage in a skating school. Some stock will always slip through; shrinkage is a fact of life. But if you don't try to minimize, through oversight, policing, monitoring, and communication, the problem will grow until it's systemic and impossible to root out.
A word about ISI Learn to Skate and Basic Skills
It isn't the curriculum, it's the management and the rink culture.
Whatever. That skater is never going to land an axel, but if it's important to your ego to have your kid skip levels, go for it.