Monday, November 15, 2010

Unable to Fail in School or Socialism in Education

As reported by The Washington Post, students at West Potomac High School in Alexandria, VA will no longer be able to receive an "F" and fail their class. Instead, they will receive an "I" and have an opportunity to receive a "regular" letter grade before the end of the year. According to the article, "the change in educational philosophy is intended to encourage students to continue working toward mastery of material rather than accepting a failing grade and moving on."

As many of the teachers at the school have pointed out, the new policy just provides an out for students not to do the work when they are supposed to. One English teacher reported that during the first quarter half of the students in her classes received an "I". I know from personal experience in teaching at high schools that unless a student commits a crime, it's next to impossible to remove them from school. I also know that if a teacher is doing their job, students actually have to work to fail. I had some students who failed a class, but they really worked at it--they never turned in any homework, they tried to sleep in class, they didn't study for tests, they didn't participate.

According to the Assistant Superintendent at the district, Peter Noonan, "If we really want students to know and do the work, why would we give them an F and move on?"

Why would you give a student an F and then move on? Well, because that's how life is Mr. Noonan. You usually don't get an opportunity to go back and fix the mistakes you do in life. This is just another example of a policy and philosophy that has no meaning in the real world. It's also another way to punish students who actually do the work when they are supposed to. It all sounds a bit socialist, perhaps even communist to me.

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