No D’s

D is not a passing grade — it’s not a grade at all — in Eminence, Kentucky schools. The school district made C the minimum passing grade four years ago. After the initial shock, it’s worked well.

“Getting a D is like doing the bare minimum,” said Carter Martin, a middle and high school business teacher. “Life isn’t like that.”

The school board is now talking about eliminating C’s as well: Middle and high school students would have to score no lower than 80 percent to pass a class.

Since eliminating D’s, the district says it has seen its failure rate drop, and its standardized test scores have risen 13 points in middle school and 10 points in high school.

“We raised their standards, and they met them,” said Steve Frommeyer, principal of Eminence’s middle and high schools.

Downtown College Prep, the San Jose charter high I write about in Our School, eliminated D’s so students would understand that C is the lowest grade that counts for college admission. Many students, especially ninth graders, fail to make a C and end up repeating classes in summer school or repeating a grade. But those who pass have a future.

I can’t see eliminating the C.

About Joanne


  1. If you’re teaching to mastery an 80% is the lowest you’d want to go.

    I took two courses on the Keller plan in college. If I remember correctly everyone got As, and everyone earned As.

    You couldn’t move on from one unit to the next until you’d scored at least 90% on the unit test.

    KUMON uses the same approach.

  2. I’ve put a link to a law school professor who used the Keller plan in one of his courss here.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Joanne — When Ds were eliminated, did the schools use a 10 point grading scale. I may not be saying this correctly but an A would be a 90 – 100, B 80 – 90, C 70 -80? This is the scale at my older son’s private school. There is no D.

    My younger son’s academic magnet public high school (and all of the schools in the district) have a grading scale of 93 – 100 (A); 85 – 92 (B); 75 – 85 (C); 70 – 74 (D) and below a 70 is failing.

    Thanks —


  4. Gotta keep the C. The grades of B and A are for above average work. The only place where all the kids are above average is in Lake Wobegon.