Is it becoming too hard to fail?, ask Moriah Balingit and Donna St. George in the Washington Post.
School districts are making it harder to fail by banning zeroes for missed or failing work and letting students retake exams and turn assignments in late.
Under a new policy in Virginia’s Fairfax County, one of the nation’s largest school systems, middle and high school students can earn no lower than a score of 50 if they make a “reasonable attempt” to complete work. And for the first time this year, high school teachers who were going to fail a student had to reevaluate the student using “quality points,” making an F less detrimental to a student’s final grade. Prince George’s County in Maryland will limit failing grades to a 50 percent minimum score when students show a “good-faith effort.”
The goal is to keep students from giving up and give stragglers more time to learn the material. However, some teachers are dubious, reports the Post.
Forty-two to 69 percent of high school teachers had concerns about the proposed grading policy on a recent survey, said Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s County Educators’ Association.
“We have no problem being fair to students,” she said. “But if they are not doing the work and not performing, and we give them a grade they did not earn, how does that make them college and career ready?”
Sam Hedenberg teaches English to special education students at Fairfax’s Mount Vernon High School, where zeroes are banned. t=The lowest possible score is a 53.
“It definitely provides that opportunity for a kid to catch up,” Hedenberg said.
But he also has seen students game the system. One student was able to pass his class even though he skipped several essay-writing assignments. “Many students have already started to figure out that they don’t have to do very much but they can still pass,” he said.
The trend also is to base grades on students’ mastery of coursework, not on whether they do homework, turn assignments in on time or other measures of work habits.
At a Los Angeles charter network, seniors advised against test retakes in “exit interviews,” reports KPCC.
Kayla Martin, who’s among this year’s graduates from PUC Community Charter Early College High, said some students felt comfortable blowing off tests because they could retake them. But that left them feeling less-prepared for college.
“Once you get to college, you can’t retest,” she said. “Once you get that grade, that’s it. You try to go to a professor and say, ‘Retest,’ and they’re going to laugh at you and say, ‘We don’t do that.'”
Now, students can retake quizzes, but not tests.