‘No-fail’ grading gets an ‘H’

“No-fail” grading hasn’t passed the test — or failed, reports Fox News. More school districts have abolished the “F,” hoping that students will try to turn an “H” (for “held”) into a passing grade. But the strategy is controversial.

Last week in Texas, state senators backed the elimination of “no-fail” grading by unanimously approving a measure that would prohibit school districts from forcing teachers to dole out minimum grades to failing pupils. The bill was introduced by Republican State Sen. Jane Nelson, who said the trend toward “no-fail” grading encourages manipulation of the education system.

. . . Nelson, a former public school teacher, said minimum grade policies reward “minimum effort” from students who “live up or down” to expectations set by educators.

Sherri Johnson, director of programs for the National Parent Teacher Association, said “no-fail” may encourage low-performing students to stay in school.

“What an ‘F’ says is that you just don’t get it,” Johnson said. “But what if the child gets pieces of it but they haven’t mastered everything? Or perhaps that ‘F’ says you failed three tests but not necessarily failed the entire skill.”

Some students simply don’t perform well on exams, and grades typically don’t reveal “what’s behind” the failure, Johnson said.

It’s too soon to say whether abolishing the “F” will limit failure. However, only 16 percent of first-semester “H” grades were raised to passing grades in the second semester in public high schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Fox notes.