Prince George’s County is considering enacting a policy that would make it so high school students never get a grade below 50 percent, among other changes that are aimed at addressing inequity among students.

The proposed policy would still allow teachers to fail students–but instead of getting, say, a 35 on an assignment, they’d get at least a 50. (That is, if they showed some effort–you will, alas, still have to show up and at least try to do your homework.) The idea behind the new policy is that very low failing grades make students feel hopeless and that they never have a chance to catch up; that may inspire them to just give up on the class in the middle of the semester. Such a policy is already in place in the county’s elementary and middle school schools. Another new policy would not allow teachers to factor a student’s behavior into his or her grade. There’s some similarity here with the recent debate over covered grades at local universities.

Conservative magazine The National Review was incensed by the proposed policies, saying that they would not prepare students for “the real world.” I’m not sure how much tests you’ve had to take as a member of the real world, but for me, so far it’s been… zero.

3 replies on “Maryland County Considers Banning Bad Grades”

  1. Many people in the real world are required to take tests. I personally had to take the grueling series 79 and 63 and a real estate broker licensing exam all were between 1 and 3 hours long all gave scores. Reviews at most organized companies now are done with scores and the bad employees get low scores. I guess your job as a reporter doesn’t require this but many other jobs, i.e., lawyer, doctor, banker, engineer, teacher, etc. all require tests and if you fail them you can’t work in those professions. Frankly, articles like this are ruining the American work ethic.

  2. I’m a nurse and we are constantly tested on skills. At least yearly, sometimes, bi-yearly. There are also multiple written tests yearly and my employment and raise (if they’re offering anything resembling a raise) are based partly on the results of these which I have to get at least an 80% on. There’s a test to get the job (and don’t forget Nursing Boards plus all those exams in actual nursing school). It’s a competitive world out here and learning how to take a test and how to motivate yourself and how to not give up are skills worth learning.

  3. This new policy is ludicrous. Sadly, it will ultimately have the opposite effect intended for these disadvantaged children. This new policy fosters and supports a concept that it is ok to not make an effort, it’s ok to not show up to class, it’s ok not do your homework and study – and no, you won’t have to feel the consequences of these choices. This measure is, in reality, designed to hold them back and keep them in their current disadvantaged situation because it is not rooted in the real world rules and expectations of the work force. Children need to learn the fundamental formula that positive behavior produces success, and negative behavior results in failure.

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