Check out this letter from Steven A. Lockard, Ph.D. Deputy Superintendent Fairfax County Public Schools. Not only is he proposing no zero grades (e.g. even if the kid never comes to class and never does any work he gets a 50% — see previous blog and Fox News Article), but no test is a final test. He is proposing mandated test retakes. Young students in Fairfax County who are not yet self-motivated will never study for an exam because they could just retake it. Now as an adult, I know what happens in the real world. In my career as an attorney, if I show up unprepared, I can ruin my clients’ entire life. There are no retakes in Court, and no retakes in life. This is the kind of Liberal education philosophy that will ruin our nationally recognized schools and could even ruin our economy. What company wants to open up in an area where their future employees think they can receive a 50% for doing nothing and re-do a project after failing?
Here is the letter:
Dear Middle and High School Teachers,
I am reaching out to you, the members of the secondary teaching community, to share information about work that must begin in our division. It is time to examine our current grading policies in an effort to ensure that we have consistent and equitable practices throughout our middle and high schools.
You may be wondering why we feel it is important to address this topic at this time. Our middle schools and some of our high schools have moved towards implementing research-based grading policies that strive to ensure that grades accurately represent student achievement. These policies include practices that encourage students to continue learning for demonstration of mastery. I commend these schools for their work in this area and recognize that steps forward in parts of the division create inequity when viewing the entire school system – that is something we can and must address. In addition, engaging in this work will provide us the opportunity to ensure that we are all utilizing reasonable and consistent grading policies as we fully implement the SIS ParentView and open our gradebooks to parents.
As a school system, it is imperative that all of our students are afforded sound and equitable practices and therefore the time is now to engage in these complex conversations and begin to consider change. We are striving for transparency in the process and need as much perspective as possible.
The work ahead requires our school system to consider long range and short term recommendations to the following grade-related concepts/topics:
- Examine and make recommendations for eliminating or limiting the use of “zeros” in the 100 point marking system.
- Examine and make recommendations for assessment retakes with associated guidelines.
- Examine and make recommendations for separating work habits and achievement.
- Examine and make recommendations regarding the “maximums” and “minimums” grades can carry; i.e., tests count for “X”% of grade, participation “X”%, etc.
- Examine and make recommendations regarding the formulation of “final” course grades.
- Make recommendations regarding minimum number of grades per grading period. As it relates specifically to the electronic gradebook, examine and make recommendations regarding reasonable turnaround time(s) for grades to be posted to the electronic gradebook.
These are large and complex concepts so it is important that we take our time, get the necessary input and perspective and be careful and purposeful as we move forward. While there is no set timeline for any changes, our hope is that over the remainder of this school year, through the feedback we gather, that we will be able to determine what, if any changes to grading policies could be considered for the 2015-16 school year and beyond. It is critically important that teacher perspective and input are heard and valued as we plan this change.
I have convened a central oversight committee consisting of principals and other members of division leadership. In addition, we will be asking each middle and high school principal to select two teacher representatives to participate in focus groups that will meet over the next several months. We will also be asking our teacher associations to provide teacher representatives for the focus groups. The role of these teachers will be to provide input to the committee as they consider and make any recommendations for short and long term change to the Leadership Team and School Board.
I encourage us all to educate ourselves on current research and engage in conversations with our colleagues as we pursue consistent and equable grading practices on behalf of our students. As always, I am incredibly appreciative of the work that you do each and every day for our students.
Steven A. Lockard, Ph.D.
Fairfax County Public Schools
8115 Gatehouse Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
This will create an environment where no child can possibly fail. But how will anyone know the opposite, when a student truly excels? How will colleges and universities know who to accept?
My prediction is that if this goes into practice, it won’t be there for long. Parents are not going to like no grades, hence no grade-point average.