Harry Wong
Oct 2017
Vol 14 No 3

You Don’t HAVE To Give an F if You Don’t Want To

By Bill Page

The greatest single deterrent to individualization is the grading system. Schools have generally been willing to provide for some student differences in the areas of materials, curriculum, differentiation, grouping, assignments and scheduling, but are reluctant to allow for differences in determining grades and reporting school progress to parents.

The “need” for report cards usually requires that the entire class or school be subjected to a singular evaluative system that will judge, rank, or compare students. Thus, even where we allow for human differences in daily routine four, six or eight times a year we are likely to lump all kids together in the process of evaluation and assessment.

While reporting systems are likely to be mandated and standardized by the top level of a given school system, teachers control the testing procedures, the testing conditions, and personal decisions. It is the teacher who decides whether a percentage of the report card grade will be based on “class participation,” “a quarterly project,” “homework,” or “conduct.” The teacher has the power to affect report card grades by these kinds of decisions:

  • This will not count on your grade.
  • You can still make “that” up.
  • I will extend the deadline until Friday.
  • You may do it “this way” or “that way.”
  • You may turn in an extra project to raise your grade.
  • We will not count that test.
  • With the bonus questions you can make more than 100 percent.
  • Missing Assignments must be made up or cannot be made up.

Given that teachers always control most of the grading procedures it should then be possible in their own little closed-door classroom for a teacher, who so desires, to incorporate ideas that can reduce and even eliminate F’s on a report card. S/he can do this within the policy and constraints of even the most autocratic and rigid school system.

Some of the following suggestions would not be acceptable to many teachers, but flunking kids should not be acceptable to them either. 



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 and is filed under Bill Page, September 2009. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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