Do We Need “F” Grades? More Schools Are Saying No.

Do grading systems need a “failure” option? That is the question being increasingly asked in schools across the country.  The latest school to eliminate the F is Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota which posted a videotape on a new grading scale which does not allow for any grade below 50 percent. It also bans the use of a student’s behavior or class record to be considered in grading.

One of the areas of the greatest attention in recent years for anti-racism reforms in schools has been grading and testing systems. Whole university systems have abandoned standardized testing as inimical to minority advancement while secondary school systems have eliminated expulsions due to disruptive conduct, removed proficiency requirements in Math and English, and eliminated advanced programs for learning.

In Minnesota, District Superintendent Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak has campaigned for grading reform. He has argued that “grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequities are perpetuated,” according to the school website.

That view is reflected in the YouTube video by Principal Christina Pierre and Associate Principal Norman Bell who insist that the emphasis should be on what a student knows and not how they behave. Moreover, they explain that there will no longer be failing grades as shown on the new grading scale:

Frankly, I like some of the reforms. For example, allowing students to retake exams seems a good way to get them to actually learn material rather than focus entirely on test performance.

I also recognize that class disruption penalties can produce racially disparate results and can reflect bias. However, grades have traditionally included class performance and conduct, including late submissions or bad conduct. Frankly, I would prefer greater efforts at allowing students to ameliorate such bad attendance or conduct grades rather than eliminate any grading based on misconduct. Schools teach conduct as well as content lessons. Indeed, they reinforce many of the lessons of parents at home. I would like less emphasis on punishing bad conduct, including expulsions. However, I would not eliminate such penalties.  Such actions can be monitored and reviewed to recognize racially discriminatory motives or patterns.

The elimination of the F grade is an interesting debate. I am not sure that I would favor such an elimination rather than allowing for opportunities to remove the grade. However, I am open to such proposals. the use of “incomplete” has its benefits. Once again, I think that it is very important to try to avoid failing students, which only further isolates and demoralizes students. Faced with failing grades across the board, a student is more likely to give up and drop out. Often a test with no points reflects a serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed.  The question is whether anything is really lost by treating such tests as “incomplete” as opposed to a failure. I think that the important thing is to allow students to retake tests and keep working to learn the material.

However, the greater danger is grade inflation and lowering proficiency standards. That is why I have opposed the elimination of standardized testing. I was particularly moved by the frustration of a mother in Baltimore recently who complained that her son was in the top half of his class despite failing all but three of his classes. Graduating students without proficiency in English or Math is the worst possible path for these students, schools and society.

I would allow teachers to continue to grade on class performance and records. However, I think that the effort to allow students to retake exams and change grades is a good one from an educational standpoint. This is not simply because of race differentials. It benefits all students at a time of great stress and dysfunctional pressures. Our job as educators is first and foremost to teach material and help students learn.   Accordingly, I like the policy to retake/revise tests, quizzes, papers, projects within a 10-day window after the grade is posted.

I think that there is common ground in these often heated debates. For my part, I would keep standardized tests, reinforced proficiency requirements for graduation, and keep grading based in part on classroom performance. I would also require any grading of class performance to be separately noted and explained to allow for monitoring and review. I would also implement the changes on allowing for the retaking of tests, quizzes, and projects.

What is lost in these debates is that we all care about education and these kids. We should be able to reach good-faith resolutions to help those students struggling in the system. We need to keep them invested in doing better while reinforcing the need to be personally accountable. We need however to stop screaming at each other and look at new ways of approaching these problems.

 

 

213 thoughts on “Do We Need “F” Grades? More Schools Are Saying No.”

  1. when the student “graduates”, they will never be in a system based on success or failure, job performance ratings, professional expectations, job demands…school setup now is not realistic for real world requirements to succeed….do the give F in law school or bar exam….

  2. I’ve mentioned for years that the Khazarians’ Protocols deals with undermining our system of education and turning our children in to drones only useful to the tyranny. But hey, ban me, as the truth coming apparent cannot possibly be THEM, again?!

  3. Thanks for including the slide showing the new grading scale. Proves these folks are *too dumb* to even get their own scale right. It says, “49.49% – 0 are not used”. If so, what happens between 49.50% – 49.99%?

  4. “If you create an environment where the people truly participate, you don’t need control. They know what needs to be done and they do it.” (214)

    Coaching Your Kids to Be Leaders. By Pat Williams

  5. OT: This requires reading the article to understand the headline. The report includes studies.
    —-

    “More than 500,000 adverse events reported after COVID vaccines, from temps to neuropathy
    As of Sept. 27, 2021 there were 569,294 adverse event reports associated with COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S., according to the federal Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).”

    https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/coronavirus/mon78-most-common-adverse-events-reported-after-covid-19-vaccination?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%20October%204%202021%20125421%20615b31bdcbe87&utm_content=Daily%20Newsletter%20October%204%202021%20125421%20615b31bdcbe87+CID_263517962d87af31f06f2518dc6fbdb3&utm_source=newsletter&utm_term=Read%20More

  6. “The Dem’s “green new deal” is an attempt to nationalize the energy industry (which Biden’s policies are currently hobbling). ”

    It isn’t.

    “They are trying to nationalize the banking industry. ”

    They aren’t.

    “Their proposal to increase massively health care spending is an attempt to nationalize medicine, i.e., to have socialized medicine.”

    It isn’t.

    “They are proposing massive tax increases.”

    Only for the uber-wealthy. Trump and the GOP cut taxes, primarily for the wealthy, and increased the country’s debt significantly.

    “The Dem’s are sliding from welfare-statism into full-blown statism ”

    They aren’t.

    “If you cannot see the economic disasters at the end of this …”

    It was a bigger economic problem for the GOP to cut taxes, primarily benefiting the top 10%, and to now be risking default by refusing to even allow the Dems to vote on the debt ceiling. You are blaming the wrong party.

      1. They aren’t, and I’ve provided as much evidence as Sam did for his claims that I was quoting (none). If he provides evidence for his, then I’ll provide evidence for mine.

        1. “. . . as much evidence as Sam did for his claims . . .”

          Try, as I did, reading the Dem’s policies — both those enacted and proposed.

          Your problem is not the “evidence.” Your problem is that you do not know how to *evaluate* that evidence. Other Leftists are less innocent. They know how to evaluate the economic consequences of statism — yet they consciously evade that evidence, to achieve two things: destruction and power.

            1. Anonymous says:

              “If you taught logic, you should know that begging the question is a fallacy.”

              As is the argument of the “slippery slope” because when 2 things differ sufficiently in degree, they oftentimes will differ in kind. A man with a full head of hair and a bald man are not the same thing. Thus, it cannot be argued that there is no difference between the 2 because it’s only a matter of degree.

              As divided as we are on facts and “alternative facts,” our debates are made even worse by unsound arguments. If only we all had taken a course in logic in school, we could avoid bogus arguments.

    1. ““The Dem’s “green new deal” is an attempt to nationalize the energy industry (which Biden’s policies are currently hobbling). ”

      ATS: It isn’t.

      “They are trying to nationalize the banking industry. ”

      ATS: They aren’t.

      “Their proposal to increase massively health care spending is an attempt to nationalize medicine, i.e., to have socialized medicine.”

      ATS: It isn’t.”

      ATS you have demonstrated what you know, nothing. Total denial. The evidence is there, but for convenience sake you ignore it. Perhaps those were your best answers for the ones that followed were terrible.

    2. Good comment we will not have freedom until we reject and eject all the socialists and send them back to where ever and if that means take away any vestige of citizenship and ban them from any visitors rights fine I’d rather give the slots to the DACAs thand the socialists.

      Down with socialism in any of it’s forms whatever it takes.

    3. “You are blaming the wrong party.”

      You and the Dems are operating on the false premise that government creates wealth. The only thing that government controls and taxes do is destroy wealth. Wealth is a function of essentially two things: Productive individuals and economic freedom.

      ” . . . risking default by refusing to even allow the Dems to vote on the debt ceiling.”

      Good — they got a backbone.

      Cut government spending and you don’t have to worry about the debt ceiling.

      1. “You and the Dems are operating on the false premise that government creates wealth”

        No, I’m operating on the true premises that it would be a global and national financial disaster for the U.S. to default on its debt and that we are mostly talking about debt already accrued (much of it under Trump), and therefore the Republicans in the Senate should not filibuster a vote on it.

        “Good — they got a backbone.”

        Only when they choose to put party over country.

        “Cut government spending and you don’t have to worry about the debt ceiling.”

        First, that’s false, as the previous debt ceiling was extended to a date, not extended by an amount, so there will be a default unless it’s extended, even if government spending is now cut.

        Second, you should have said that to the Republicans who increased the debt rather than pay for their tax cuts. Trump said he’d eliminate the federal debt in 8 years. Instead, the debt increased by over 30% during Trump’s tenure, by almost $7.8trillion.

        Republicans suspended the debt limit under Trump after they slashed taxes for the rich, and McConnell himself said it was crucial at the time: “We will never have America default. … We will never have America default. … We raised the debt ceiling because America can’t default. I mean—that would be a disaster.”

        Even now, McConnell isn’t arguing against increasing the debt ceiling: “We all agree America must not default. … Democrats should not play Russian roulette with our economy. They have an obligation to raise the debt ceiling and they will do it.” But he refuses to let it come up for a vote.

    4. “They are proposing massive tax increases.” (Me)

      “Only for the uber-wealthy.”

      That is false.

      They are proposing a massive increase in corporate taxes. That means a massive tax increase for anyone who works for a corporation, and for anyone who buys products and services from a corporation — i.e., everyone.

      They want to use an accounting gimmick to increase massively taxes on home ownership, for everyone.

      Their skyrocketing inflation is a tax on anyone who spends money, i.e, on everyone.

      Their government controls reduce the supply of products and services (e.g., energy), which in turn increases the cost of those goods. That is a de facto tax increase (about a $1.50/gallon, just at the pump).

      Oh, and the “uber-wealthy” have a right to their wealth, just as does anyone else.

      And if you knew anything about economics (which the Dems don’t), you’d know Hazlitt’s principle of secondary consequences:

      “The bad economist sees only what immediately strikes the eye; the good economist also looks beyond. The bad economist sees only the direct consequences of a proposed course; the good economist looks also at the longer and indirect consequences. The bad economist sees only what the effect of a given policy has been or will be on one particular group; the good economist inquires also what the effect of the policy will be on all groups.”

      When you tax the wealthy, you tax countless others in the economy — from those who the wealthy spend their money on, to those companies the wealthy invest in.

      1. “[A] They are proposing a massive increase in corporate taxes. [B] That means a massive tax increase for anyone who works for a corporation, and for anyone who buys products and services from a corporation”

        No, A does not imply B. It means less profit to shareholders.

        As for the rest of your evidenceless claims, I’m just going to follow your model and deny them without evidence. Two can play your game.

        1. “It means less profit to shareholders.”

          Good addition. I forgot about that secondary consequence.

          And guess who, among those shareholders, owns a massive amount of that wealth?

          You guessed it — the middle class, via its retirement accounts.

          1. And who owns a disproportionate amount of that wealth? The wealthy. The bulk of the effect falls on the wealthy, as intended.

            1. Envy is grotesque and nihilistic.

              And in this case, as always with the Left, it’s used to rationalize harming the middle class, as just “collateral damage.”

              1. Some on the left *are* wealthy. People like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have called for taxes on the wealthy to be increased, even though that affects them. Many Democrats in Congress are wealthy. They’re not doing this out of envy, but because they believe that it’s good for the country as a whole.

                It isn’t “collateral damage” to the middle class. It’s an assessment that there is a NET benefit to the middle class and the poor. You only count the negative effect, and ignore the benefit.

                1. “People like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have called for taxes on the wealthy to be increased, even though that affects them.”

                  It is not a newsflash that some wealthy individuals feel unearned guilt for being wealthy. Nor is it a newsflash that some successful capitalists are anti-capitalists. You can thank the altruists and statists for those two ugly phenomena.

                  1. It’s also not a newsflash that you assume guilt when they have not expressed guilt and that you are silent about the need to look at the net effects of a choice.

                    1. They express their guilt, but their estates will not pay the tax. What they don’t pay is made up by the little guy, Learn some economics.

                      SM

                2. “Some on the left *are* wealthy. People like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have called for taxes on the wealthy to be increased, even though that affects them.”

                  What a dumb comment. They could pay taxes on their money or give a gift to government, but they don’t. Both of them believe they know how to spend money better than government so they created charities in order to not have their estates taxed. Do you know nothing?

                  SM

              2. Sam, remember the AMT promise?

                If we took all the money of the wealthiest to fund the federal government, the wealthiest would run out of money before the year was out. That anonymous doesn’t seem to know much.

                I have no objection to paying taxes, if the need for more taxes was the problem. It’s spending and wasteful spending mostly by Democrats. Just look at how casually the Democrats leave billions of dollars in weaponry in Afghanistan, without even considering the secrecy or what we will now spend to correct the problem Biden left us with.

    5. BTW, what is your obsession with “links?”

      A talisman? An amulet? A security blanket?

      When your target doesn’t provide one, what do you conclude? (That’s a rhetorical question.) For you, such refusal is a Sophistical trick to dismiss the person’s argument, and to undermine their confidence and credibility. I think we need a new fallacy: argumentum ad linkum.

      When someone on this blog makes an interesting point or argument, without providing a link or reference, I don’t stomp my foot or pout in the corner. I say to myself: “Oh, that’s worth looking into.” And I do the research on my own.

      It’s not that hard.

      1. I’m not obsessed with links.

        I do care about valid evidence.

        Don’t conflate them.

        If you taught logic, then you should know that the person who makes the claim is the one with the evidential burden of proof for it.

        1. Provide “evidence” of what? The Dem’s economic policies (enacted and proposed)? Been there, done that countless times. (And their policies are not exactly a secret.)

          You keep waving “evidential burden” as a red cape of distraction, because you cannot or will not evaluate the destructive nature of those policies.

          There’s a great line from Victor Hugo that explains you, and countless others like you in the culture: “Those who do not use reason are not open to its persuasal.”

          1. Provide evidence to substantiate your claims, for example, evidence that the Green New Deal “is an attempt to nationalize the energy industry.”

            That is not a claim about what the Green New Deal proposal is (which we all can read), but a claim about it’s intended effects — a claim that you haven’t substantiated.

            The same with the rest of your claims (e.g., “They are trying to nationalize the banking industry”).

            Don’t pretend that I’m asking what the proposals are. I’m not.

            1. “Provide evidence to substantiate your claims, for example, evidence that the Green New Deal ‘is an attempt to nationalize the energy industry.’” “The same with the rest of your claims . . .”

              In a blog comment?! You’re delusional.

              A blog comment is essentially an online version of Letters to the Editor. As with all forms of communication, it has limitations — the most obvious being word length. The best one can do in a blog comment, properly crafted, is to assert a conclusion and (maybe) indicate a few premises for that conclusion. There is a good reason why most of the best blog comments are gloriously terse. (Hell, one cannot even prove a conclusion, properly understood, in an op-ed — which is typically about 750 words).

              When you and others keep waving the red cape of “onus of proof” and where’s the evidence — in response to a *blog comment* — you are demanding the impossible, and you are seeking a contradiction.

              If proof of a conclusion (properly understood) is what you’re after, then read a 10,000-word essay, or read a book. Those are the forms of communication where such proof is possible.

              P.S. Even if I had written such a proof, I would not link to it for you. To do so would be to cast pearls before swine.

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