How can teachers do their job when they are forced to assign relatively high grades for failing, incompetent work? To make a statement about what a student has done, which statement does not reflect and recognize reality, is dishonest. It is a lie. (I have known some cases where a teacher upped a student’s grade to motivate a smart student to work harder — but that is for a smart student who is having some outside trouble affecting his/her grades. This is rare and should be left to a teacher’s judgment.) But they moral burden and guilt is on those who force the teachers to do so, not so much on the teachers. In “Senate backs elimination of ‘no-fail’ grading” in the Dallas Morning News (Tuesday, April 21, 2009), Terrence Stutz writes:
AUSTIN – School districts could no longer require minimum grades for failing students under truth-in-grading legislation that the Senate unanimously approved Monday. Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, says that students ‘live up or down’ to the expectations that are set for them. The measure by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, would prohibit districts from forcing teachers to assign a minimum grade to failing students regardless of their class work and test scores – a practice that has been growing in recent years. Both the Dallas and Fort Worth districts have minimum grades of 50, although at least one Dallas high school goes even further and does not allow a grade lower than 70. Under the bill, which now goes to the House, local school officials also would have to adopt a grading policy directing teachers to issue grades that reflect student mastery of subjects they take.I’ll be surprised if the bill passes. But even more surprised if it is enforced. Even then, there are many ways around it, I’m sure. And how are students to learn the importance of thinking when they learn the corrupt, errant lesson that reality does not matter? How can students learn to recognize signals of failure when the signals are removed? Why not go on to teach them to get drunk when they are hurt or out of work, so as to evade the issue and evade the signals of failure? — As if an injury will go away if they are not conscious of it; as if bills, the need for groceries, the need for shelter, will go away if they are not conscious of it; as if reality will go away. But with lessons they learn, they don’t need to get drunk. Evasion becomes built into their minds. Some ideas are worse than drugs.