Report cards. I used to hate them. I hated what they stood for in my house. Good grades garnered little praise while bad grades brought unspeakable acts of punishment. The funny thing is I was highly capable of good grades, as a lot of under-achievers are. My head was so far in the clouds I just couldn’t get my head into school.
And now I’m hearing schools are implementing a ‘No Fail policy’ – no student gets a failing grade.
Let me make sure I understand what this really means.
A strong willed child, much like I was, decides he doesn’t want to do the work. The kid believes he’s too cool for school, too busy for homework, too above the educational process and knowingly or unknowingly stops engaging in the business of learning. This policy says it is not a failure on the student to learn, it’s a failure of the teacher to teach.
There’s little doubt that our educational system is basically running on life support. With unemloyment at record levels and high school drop out rates across the country averaging around 30%, educators are saying, rather than improve the students let’s lower the standards. We are saying mediocracy is okay, that you don’t have to do the work, you won’t fail, we’re going to give it to you regardless.
That may help the %30 who are struggling with the system but it’s crippling the 70% that are there to learn and in later years cripple the ones we gave it to. There’s no mulligans in the real world – no do-overs. There’s got to be a better answer. With the policy already in place across multiple years the data points to the policy itself as a failure.
Schools that don’t give failing grades and work closely with the student to get them a passing grade were only able to get 16% of those students to improve their performance. At what cost, I wonder. Teachers are spending an extraordinary amount of time working with struggling students leaving scant little for those there to learn.
As a policy this is doomed to failure and will do nothing more than to promote an attitude that will fail the student in years to come. Under perform in the real world and you don’t get your hand held by your employer – you get shown the door.