Rewarding failure ensures failure
Hernando TodayThe issue: Proposal to establish a 40 percent to 100 percent grading scale in Hernando County public schools. Our opinion: This idea deserves a zero.
Published: July 4, 2009
Published: July 4, 2009
It's been a week since Hernando Today first reported that the Hernando County School District is considering a proposal to adopt a 40 percent to 100 percent grading scale to replace the current 0 percent to 100 percent scale.
In other words, if a student fails to turn in a homework assignment, skips class and misses a test or just bombs one, the student would still receive a 40 percent grade instead of a 0.
Quite a deal for doing nothing.
As most folks who visit our Web site will tell you, an overwhelming majority who responded think this is a really dumb idea.
We do, too.
Rewarding failure ensures failure. This is not only a bad idea, it's dangerous to youngsters who continually face dumbing-down measures designed by wrong-headed educators to supposedly increase students' self-esteem while increasing their grade point averages. They must figure if Dick and Jane feel better about themselves, they'll do better in school. That's fine and dandy, but even students can see through this questionable proposal: a free pass to underperforming students. What many forget is that failure can be the best teacher - a valuable lesson that all youngsters must learn sooner or later. Better the former than the latter.
Everyone knows there's no such thing as a free lunch. Free grades for doing nothing will produce the same result: a hunger later in life for the knowledge they unwittingly declined in their youth.
If students are programmed to learn that if they do nothing and still receive nearly half credit, more students will opt out - opt out of doing homework, studying and/or giving it the extra effort it takes to excel in school. It also diminishes the hard work and effort of students who complete their assignments and study hard for tests.
"Dude, you studied for hours and did all the homework and got a C on the test? How lame is that? I went to the movies, got a 40 and still have a C in the class."
And let's say some youngsters make it through high school utilizing the benefits of the 40 percent scale. What will students do when they realize real life begins at 0 and the effort they give determines how close to 100 they will climb?
A rude awakening indeed.
Don't try asking the boss to for five days' pay when you only show up for three. Instead, expect a pink slip, not a free pass.
We're aghast that Superintendent Wayne Alexander thinks 40/100 is a good idea.
"I like the idea," Alexander told Hernando Today. "I think we need to (change) the way we look at grades. The failure range is so (wide) if you think about it. It's not fair."
Failure is failure, regardless of the range. Most folks will tell you that a success rate of 59 percent on any task is failure - miserable failure. In the work world, private sector businesses won't put up with employees who produce at education's failure rate. The reason: There's always someone else who will go the extra mile to achieve a competitive edge.
And that's as it should be. It's called life.
How about demanding more accountability for success from students, parents, teachers and administrators?
School board member Sandra Nicholson seems to get it.
"Why bother working if you know you're only going to get a 40 (percent)? What do you have to do (to pass)? Not much. It's a freebie," Nicholson told Hernando Today. "It tells me there will be no consequences for their actions ... I just don't understand that reasoning."
We don't either. What we do know is school board members need to shelve the 40/100 idea.
It would make our district a laughingstock and lessen the academic standing of all our students.
We're perplexed why anyone would support such a strange idea. If it's just to make students feel better, delaying responsibility for societal norms is no favor. Because underperforming students might give up knowing they've already dug themselves a hole too deep to get out of, this proposal certainly isn't a hand up.
It's a trap door.