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New School Policy Would Cap Failing Grades

If Shelton school administrators decide to practice a new grading policy, the lowest score a student could receive would be 50.

Shelton's teachers and are considering a new grading policy, where 50 would be the lowest numerical score a student can receive for their final grade of each marking period, and (in some cases) for individual classes and exams.

The policy is already in place at , where principal Lorraine Williams said she thinks it already is and will continue to be successful. "The benefit is that if you flunk right away, you're not done right away. You still have a chance," she said.

So, if a student were to receive anything below a 50 early on in the marking period, they won't necessarily end up with a failing grade when report cards are distributed for the quarter.

Williams and Shelton schools superintendent Freeman Burr said that by putting a cap on what the failing grade would be, the system is giving everyone a chance to be successful. However, this does not mean everyone will ultimately pass.

"If they flunk, they flunk. We're not changing that part of it," Williams said.

Nothing is official yet, and Burr said the policy is being considered carefully. "Each school is examining grading practices," he said. "Particularly grades 5-12 are looking at it trying to determine what will work best for them."

Burr said that at the and levels, factors like course credit and level make implementing the policy a delicate task. Furthermore, it could vary amongst classes and departments, depending on how a teacher or department decides to grade students.

"Weights come into play, particularity those that might be subjective, such as with homework or class participation," he said. "There's a lot of aspects to it. If I'm quiet but a good student, does my grade go down because I speak up less in class?"

Overall, though, Burr said administrators are striving for continuity within the public school system.

"As [students] leave grade 6, we want them to be prepared for the expectations for how they’ll be graded for 7 and 8," he said. "We have to make sure that as kids are transitioning, they're not leaving one world to an erratically different one."

Burr said Shelton teachers are already privy to literature on effective grading practices, and that some research shows zeros can demotivate kids. "Each department has to explore the components of their grading practices. It won’t happen overnight," he said.

Kate March 23, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Which of your students have the most motivation to do well? I'm guessing the ones who already get good grades. And I fail to see how this is socialism, care to elaborate?
James H March 23, 2012 at 04:46 PM
“Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they'll give you as many chances as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING”...Bill Gates
James H March 23, 2012 at 04:48 PM
The idea of schools should be to teach our children that life is not made up of "grading on a curve". In the real world (especially in this economy) the jobs will be retained by those that excel not just get by. If children are discouraged by bad grades the parents should get involved. “Dumbing” down a process never results in excellence unless you're measuring the ability to excel at mediocrity.
JP March 23, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Absolutely correct. Ninety percent of the responses here are against this practice, but it is only one of the few comments in favor of it that make it to the round-up "highlights." Would the editors of the Patch care to comment on that?
Mary Anne March 23, 2012 at 09:14 PM
The kids who do well (with very few exceptions) are those whose parents value education, those who have good role models, and those who are taught to work hard. They don't feel entitled to good grades... This is especially true in the inner city where I work. The ones who "already get good grades" don't just get them by accident. They studied, they sacrificed.... It sounds to me like you believe all students are not created equal. Yes, some students have a natural ability in certain areas and find certain subjects easier than other kids...But overall, most kids excel at something. As teachers we try to help them find that area where they shine. Your policy would not prepare them for the real world....Unfortunately, many are starting to buy into your ideas...and say, to the kids in effect, don't worry if you can't do the work...we'll take care of you. Sounds like other failed programs out there.

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