Texas Grading Policy Epic Fail – Minimum grades for failing students

“Everything is bigger in Texas” is how that oft used saying goes. When it comes to education policy in Texas the saying still applies. The state’s newest exercise in grading can be nothing but a massive failure.

Many Texas school districts have imposed minimum grades teachers can give to students. A score of 50 or 60 has been set in some districts, with a few raising the bottom to 70! When I went to school a 70 would have been a C-/D+ depending on the teacher. A student could theoretically not turn in an assignment or completely bomb a test and still receive an average score.

from Web Watch

Republican Senator Jane Nelson, a former teacher who introduced the bill, said the practice of putting a minimum on student grades encourages students to “game” the system.

“Kids are smart and can figure it out,” she said. “A student in one of these districts with a minimum grade of 70 can sit in class and say, ‘I don’t have to do any homework, I don’t have to answer any questions on tests, and they still have to give me a 70 no matter what.”

Let’s teach our children how to cheat the system. That’s a noble aim to teaching. Districts employing these policies cite dropout rates and providing a “safety net” as reasons for the minimum grading policy.

from Dallas News

“There are students who make mistakes and wind up with poor grades in one grading period during the semester,” said Leslie James, assistant superintendent for policy and planning in the Fort Worth school district. “If they are not allowed to turn it around, it can become hopeless for the student. They need an opportunity to bounce back.”

James’ comment shows the lack of faith in teachers. Now while I have been an advocate in greater accountability of both teachers and students, this sort of micromanaging hurts classroom efforts. James is telling teachers, “I don’t believe you will give students adequate opportunity to make up work they’ve missed. You wont give them help to boost their poor grades either. You also don’t know how to grade students. Let us tell you how to do your job.” A teacher is in the classroom with these students. Few teachers want to fail anyone. Their job is to produce success in their students. So when they do we must recognize there is reason behind that.

This whole notion of a safety net disturbs me to no end. In “A for Effort. F in life.” I wrote about the dangers of protecting children from failure in school. Instilling children with a sense of entitlement to rewards without the work sets children up for massive failure in life. I haven’t change my mind. There is no safety net in life. An employer is not going to keep an employee who constantly performs below expectations but believes they are doing just fine. How can this person be expected to improve?

We are preparing kids for the outside world. The rewards from quality work can be great and ultimately more satisfying than just doing the bare minimum (or less than that in Texas’ case). The consequences of failure in the real world can be a cardboard box with the safety net of a soup kitchen.

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4 Responses

  1. thanks for the article. while i agree with you, i would add that times have changed since you were in school. when i was in high school (i graduated in ’03), a 50, 60, or 70 was still an F. A’s are 93 (or 92.5) – 100%, B’s were 85 (or 84.5) – 92.4, etc. So enforcing a 70% minimum won’t prevent consistent F-performance from resulting in failure, but it might prevent a single spectacular period of failure from ruining a life. Failing a year of high school english these days results in mandatory set-back (unless it is made up over the summer), so I can see some merit to this. However, I think setting it at 70 is a little ridiculous, and I agree with your point that they must be allowed to fail in order to succeed.

  2. thanks for the article. while i agree with you, i would add that times have changed since you were in school. when i was in high school (i graduated in ’03), a 50, 60, or 70 was still an F. A’s are 93 (or 92.5) – 100%, B’s were 85 (or 84.5) – 92.4, etc. So enforcing a 70% minimum won’t prevent consistent F-performance from resulting in failure, but it might prevent a single spectacular period of failure from ruining a life. Failing a year of high school english these days results in mandatory set-back (unless it is made up over the summer), so I can see some merit to this. However, I think setting it at 70 is a little ridiculous, and I agree with your point that they must be allowed to fail in order to succeed.

  3. I graduated in ’00. You’ve pointed to another part of the problem; inconsistent grading policies.

  4. I graduated in ’00. You’ve pointed to another part of the problem; inconsistent grading policies.

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