No More Failing Grades For Students!


West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA has decided to drop the “F” grade and replace it with an “I” for incomplete. Their reasoning behind this is to give the children time to catch up without telling them that they have failed the class for the current semester, in order to keep them confidant. They then have the year to make it up and at the end will be given their grade which would be A, B, C, or D and some schools have adopted an E for effort. Is this encouragement or just another way that we are lowering standards to coddle our children more?

They are not the only ones that are doing it many schools plan to make that adjustment and there are colleges such as Stanford University, Yale University, and University of California, Berkeley that have implemented this new grading system. What has all of this accomplished? More students graduating, attending college and graduating college. What all of this has done is made our graduating rates look great, but are the kids really learning if they can never fail? The point of getting the failing grade was supposed to be to let the students know what they should be focusing on, where they may need extra help with and learning from their mistakes.

Mary Mathewson, an English teacher at Potomac High says that the new standard not only cripples teachers in that it “takes away one of the very few tools [they] have to get kids to learn,” but it gives them “an out,” resulting in a system in which “kids are under the impression they can do it whenever they want to, and it’s not that big of a deal.”

Many children that are failing (not including those with learning disabilities) are failing because they are not doing the work; they are not studying, doing homework and/or completing assignments and reports. Giving them an “I” will only tell them it is OK to continue to procrastinate.

We are living in a different world than when we or our parents grew up in. With our economy being wrapped globally, this generation of children is and will always be competing on a global scale; with countries that make education their no. 1 priority, where failing is not an option and if you do there are consequences besides the obvious long term. They suffer social embarrassment and disciplined strictly at home for anything less than a perfect grade. May sound harsh at first, but if you further look into it, in most cases, if you push for perfection you will get something very close to it. If you push for mediocre you will get failure. People tend to learn and achieve when presented with incentives and it seems we no longer do that. It’s OK to fail, it’s ok to take your time, it’s ok to never finish.

These kids will one day enter the work force if they are lucky enough to find something that their more educated foreign peers have not already conquered with an attitude that no employer will like. It’s OK to miss deadlines; I can make it up later. It’s ok that I do not pay attention to detail, not a big deal; everyone knows what I meant anyway. It’s ok to just do my job and not try to go beyond because I’ll get promoted anyway.

Setting up the children for failure or a better way to learn?