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Grade the policy that bans Fs from report cards

West Potomac High School in Fairfax County has a new grading policy which all but eliminates Fs from students' report cards. Students get Is -- for incomplete -- instead, and they will get Fs only if they fail to complete assignments and learn the content in the months to come.

By Jon DeNunzio  |  November 13, 2010; 9:45 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Lord, lord, what have we come to in this country.

Nothing matters, nothing is sacred, no one is responsible for anything -- no ethics, no morals, and we wonder why our kids are falling behind the rest of the educated World!!

But we lead Mankind in rap, movie and entertainment trash, video games, and contact sports!

Posted by: bmetler | November 14, 2010 3:18 PM

I shudder to think the main lesson Fairfax County Public Schools want to impart to our children is that results don’t matter. Accomplishment doesn’t matter. Conscientiousness doesn’t matter.

This is a travesty. I am shocked a school district that views itself as a national leader would be so willing to dumb itself down.

In the end this will help no one and hurt many – from the good students forced to leave FCISD to the remaining students who will suffer hardship as they enter college or life with the foolish idea completing one’s work doesn’t matter.

Posted by: Publius66 | November 14, 2010 3:44 PM

I am a West Potomac High School teacher. I have about a dozen "I"s this quarter. I can tell you that all of my "I's" (Incompletes) are due attendance/truancy issues. If students don't come to school, it is impossible for me to teach them. But Fairfax Co. had done away with its attendance policy. You can now miss an unlimited amount of school and still pass your classes as long as you pass the assessments. But my students with I's have not taken those assessments. What is a teacher to do if their students won't come to class? Should I then come in evenings and Saturdays to catch them up? This is the time that I dedicate to planning lessons, grading and rejuvenating myself by spending time with my family. I am very disappointed that this policy has taken the responsibility for learning completely off the students and made it solely the teachers'. There seems to be an attitude that we as a school will do "whatever it takes" to help students learn, while students don't need to even show up to school.

Posted by: eagercommunicator | November 14, 2010 10:39 PM

Can I give it an "I"?

Posted by: eferri | November 15, 2010 8:15 AM

I am a FC teacher. This policy is just one more example of a school or district employing the CYA strategey in order to overcome the public's perception that this school is failing. And how do you do that? Do away with failure. Brilliant. The reason these kids aren't learning isn't becuase they are unable or that the teachers are bad or that the system is flawed. They aren't learning becuase increasingly we haven't been holding them accountable for their failings. Retakes, remediation, second chances, accepting late work, after school help, unlimited absences policy.... Is it any wonder kids don't feel they have to put in the effort. "Getting it" after the 100th chance isn't learning, it's osmosis. This boneheaded move by WP is just more of the same. It will only encourage laziness. But because these decisions are driven by the need to satisfy public/parent perception, it will spread to other schools, lest they "appear" to be doing worse by comparison. This is a textbook case of dumbing down education. Heaven help us all!

Posted by: difilipo | November 15, 2010 2:13 PM

This is a piece of a huge story:

1) FCPS policies (driven by No Child Left Behind) increasingly focus on kids at the low end of the academic spectrum. Because all evaluations are now driven by how well administrations increase stats for that group, policy/attention/funding is now palpably heading in that direction. Maybe that's right for society at large, maybe that's wrong. What's undeniable is that it's true.

2) Diverse Neighborhoods Suffer Disproportionately from New Policies. The shift described above may not be so palpable if you live in McLean, where there really is no low end of the spectrum. But here in our beloved, wildly diverse Cluster IV, it's an earthquake. (Example: Giant FCPS implements a policy saying there will be no honors version of a class that has an AP version. At Langley, that means a few more kids push for AP, and a few more drop to GenEd. No biggie. At West Potomac, kids who drop into GenEd classes are now with a very rough crowd. 40% free and reduced lunch is a heart-breaker of a statistic for everybody involved. Nobody denies that academic preparedness trends right along with economic stats. So what's the solid student to do? Sign up for AP where the workload is way above his level? Or sign up for GenEd where half the class will be way, way behind grade-level learning and where there will be disciplinary problems every single day?)

3) Affluent Families Pushed Out Of Diverse Neighborhoods. Does this mean that if you delight in living in a neighborhood that is diverse, you will be consigning your child to a sub-par education? Is the only smart choice for those people to go running to a nice, affluent suburb where they "really" belong? That's a shame. It's a shame for those families, it's a shame for the families left behind, and it's a shame for society.

4) Tail Wagging the Dog. When it comes specifically to the AP/honors question, the tail is wagging the dog. Jay Matthews came up with his simplistic test to determine how challenging a high school is by counting the number of kids taking AP classes. Silly. (My goodness: isn't the question how well are the kids doing on those tests? and where they started from?) But we are an anxious society and we want rankings, no matter how lame they are. So Jay comes up with his test, which is provocative and sells newspapers. Guess what? US News & World Report adopts the same test -- lending it a ridiculous amount of legitimacy -- and what happens? It's provocative and it sells magazines! So then FCPS and all of the other school systems in the country start to do backflips so that they can land on Jay's list. Kids are pushed into AP who have no business being there, AP classes get slowed way down. Great students now have no chance of getting a 5. But does any of that matter? Nope. Because the school now looks more "challenging." This is all driven by commerce, not education. Glad those newspapers and magazines are selling, because they're selling out our kids.

Posted by: lovepacklife | November 16, 2010 11:49 AM

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