Tuesday, August 10, 2010

D Free Zone

Little as They Try, Students Can't Get a D Here.

"At Mount Olive, N.J., a policy of A’s, B’s, C’s and F’s has led to grumbling among students."

Hu, W. (2010, August 7). "Little as they try, Students can't get a D here." Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/education/08grades.html?_r=1

**I was going to add in a super sweet image, but I decided to include this typo from the free picture editor instead.


  1. I don't see what the trouble is. I went through school in British Columbia, Canada, and we never had any Ds. Our grading scheme from elementary school to high school consisted of A/B/C+/C/C-/F. That's right, no A pluses or minuses or B pluses or minuses either. They grade like that in Vancouver to this day. Somehow we all ended up all right.

    When I was a kid, it was actually a bit of a surprise for me to learn that there was such a grade as "D". I'd never even heard of it before.

  2. It's a good idea in theory, and is certainly framed positively in the article. What's necessary to make it work is to have the balls to fail the 69-ers (or perhaps to give 68 instead, as per another CM thread).

    Of course, other common pressures must be resisted, lest grade inflation ruin the system. Teachers need to be able to power through the "least common denominator" factor and Newton's first law so that students are properly motivated to do better.

  3. Not a bad idea, but most places enforce that within majors anyhow: you can't graduate with a D average, nor will a D in any course gain you credit toward a major.

    The D is so students can be lackadaisical about courses outside their major, and proffies can feel good about themselves: "at least it's not an F."

  4. I teach at one of NJ's public universities, and I'm very happy about this. My hope is that it other towns will follow Mt. Olive's lead and that eventually , it will mean fewer special snowflakes coming to us.

    Hey, a girl can hope.

  5. I was told to "Fight grade inflation!" in a departmental meeting. So I designed my course (assignments, rubrics, grading standards, etc.) so that the average would be a C, which was what was needed for the course to count for the major.

    Then I got the missive to "avoid giving a C- to cut down on grade appeals." Huh? Okay, sure...I'll just round up (or down in rare cases) to meet the directive. The students, despite the whining, complaining, bitching, and name-throwing (re: my nickname) actually averaged in the C+/B- range. No problem, right?

    One C- slipped through the cracks. My bad! Okay, I would've rounded up because he was an asshole, so I wasn't shocked by that grade appeal. (p.s. he actually deserved a D).

    One D student also complained. The ad hoc appeal committee would have given that dumbo an B if I hadn't fought them. All because I was just so completely wrong about GIVING her a D (they wanted to completely ignore her poor performance all term).

    In the end, grades are meaningless because grading standards in many places are seen as sketchy, unreliable, and negotiable. Let's just make it all Pass-Fail and let everyone who "tries" get a Pass. It's how it works in some schools any way.

  6. Oh! I forgot the kicker!

    The following term the department wanted us to avoid not just the C- but also the D+!

    I wanted to walk into their next meeting and tell them to grow a spine and stand up to the bastards filing all the lame appeals. Oh, and also tell them to get the lame-ducks off the grade appeal committee and start supporting faculty grading standards.

    I didn't.

  7. At the place where I used to teach, not only were grading standards meaningless, protocols were as well.

    Course grades between 47 - 49% could be rounded up to 50% at the department head's discretion. Between 41 and 46%, students could write supplemental exams but they had to ask the course instructor to do so, which usually was a mere formality as I don't know of any of my colleagues saying no. Or so I thought.

    During my last year there, I taught a service course to a different department. I remember something like a quarter or a third failed it because the students thought that, due to the department's lax academic policies, they simply had to show up in order to get 50% and few bothered doing any work. After the course was finished, nobody ever asked me about a supplemental exam, so I assumed that the department head let the grades stand as they were submitted.

    Ha! A few months later, I saw the graduation list printed in a local newspaper and guess whose names I saw on it? That's right--many of the snowflakes who flunked my course. Somebody evidently made some sort of deal in order to clear up the deficient grades without either my knowledge or permission.

    By then I'd quit my teaching job. Reading that list only justified my decision as, obviously, nothing I did there mattered.

  8. As long as I can remember there have been systems to make grading "work." All of these systems have seemed to me to be designed to placate students and parents.

    I say, let the grade I give represent the achievement of the student. A, B, C, D, F. That's all I need.


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