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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'D' is for 'didn't show up or do the work'

“You’ll have a kid who does nothing for the whole semester, and then last two weeks of May or June, they’ll do a couple assignments and bump themselves up to a D,” complains Danny Cole, a high school teacher in Montgomery County, Maryland.


Photo: Binyamin Bohlouli/Unsplash

Students get a 50 percent minimum grade, even for assignments never turned in. Teachers -- and students -- say that encourages absenteeism and bad work habits, reports Em Espey for MoCo360.


“I want my students to leave school with the life skills to do something," says Cole. "If they think they can get 50% for not doing anything and they go to work at Chipotle and don’t show up, they’re going to get fired.”


"Students aren't developing the work ethic they need to succeed in life," says Sami Saeed, the student member of the school board. “Even students who benefit from it — if you really talk with them, they’ll tell you they know it’s not good for them.”


"In recent years as concerns have grown over rising student absenteeism and plummeting math and literacy rates, many local high school newspapers have published opinion pieces about the 50% rule’s potential contributions to the trends," writes Espey. “We all know and love the Montgomery County Public Schools 50 percent rule because you can literally do the bare minimum and still get by in the class,” a 2019 Watkins Mills article begins. “But the harsh reality is when you get to college you only have two options, pass or fail. That’s it. So how much is this rule really helping you?”

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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Aug 05, 2023

These districts don't seem to understand assessment. Your state's schools should have a set of standards for the level and at least the main subjects the pupils are enrolled in, and the teachers assess pupil achievement with respect to those standards, which grades are often expressed as letters (this will vary with level and policy): if such assessment is conducted transparently, percentages don't enter the picture at all, assignments that aren't submitted aren't graded and are just blank spaces in the grade book, and a report at the end of the grade level merely states the child's current progress with respect to the standard expected (for example, a D, in our schools, means the child has not achieved the standard,…

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obiwandreas
Aug 05, 2023

I will offer a partial defense of the 50% rule, followed by a condemnation.


My district has had the 50% rule for years, but with 65% required to pass. What this means is that if you earn below 50% during two quarters, you can pass by averaging 80% on the other two.


Without this rule, a person earning below 30% for two quarters would be mathematically unable to pass, thus leaving students spending half the year knowing that they've already failed, so it doesn't matter if they don't do anything and just spend the time disrupting the class. With this rule, a student who fails the first two quarters, but gets to a 60% in the third still has …


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Guest
Aug 04, 2023

Keep an eye on Houston (TX) schools. The state took over from the locally elected board and "there's a new sheriff in town"... https://jimschutze.substack.com/p/the-awful-truth-about-mike-miles?utm_source=profile&utm_medium=reader2

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Guest
Aug 04, 2023
Replying to

The new sheriff seems very uninterested in actual academic learning and will just be another version of "kids can be forced to learn with enough discipline" idea.

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