Monday, April 27, 2009

GRPS Foolishness May Be Spreading...

Back in December the Grand Rapids Public School District (MI) announced that F's were not going to be issued on students' report cards, replaced instead by an amorphous "H" (presumably for "held," as in the grade is held pending completion of...something; or for "hope," according to a school district spokesman). This was expected to improve the dropout rate. I blogged about it at that time.

But now, according to, we learn that this foolishness extends from coast to coast! Linked also to this article is another which identifies six more school districts, although an unspecified number of additional districts apparently do something like this. The new code acronym is "ZAP," for "Zeroes aren't permitted."

These additional six school districts do not use the "H" grade (I hesitate to call it a grade, but that is what it is functioning as), but instead lasso the offending did-not-do-homework students into either an after-school activity (we called this "detention" in my day) to complete the assignments or some other situation which demands that the homework be completed. In general, once the students complete the assignment, even if it's late, they can generally get a grade higher than a zero on it.

If a school district wants to codify its procedures for students who don't do assignments to mandate their attendance in an after-school activity [a.k.a., punishment for not doing homework is detention], I have no problem with that. I would like to note two things, however:

  • It appears that no one wants to use the word "punishment" or any synonym that contains a negative connotation. Students are helped and taught, not hurt, when they learn that failure to meet their responsibilities requires a consequence—and "punishment" is one such accurate term for it.
  • There needs to be a "point of no return" beyond which, if the assignment isn't completed, a zero is the result. I can even be charitable and give a "day of grace" (or even two, for a first offense) before issuing a zero, but that window of opportunity should not stay open for long. For one thing, the logistics for the teachers are going to be a burden as it is.
And, oh, by the way, how is this working up there in Grand Rapids? From we get some more details, but the second article summarizes them nicely:
"But according to figures released earlier this week, the effort may not be working. Just 16 percent of classes failed during the program's initial trimester were converted into passing grades, and in 68 percent of classes students made no attempt to reconcile the grade. Another 15 percent of the classes were failed a second time." [Emphasis mine]
The liberal softie may claim that it's worth doing it for those 16% to get a passing grade, but that's not the point—those students would be permitted to retake the class anyway, despite the "H" grade initially received! I'm happy for those 16%; I am disgusted for the 68%. Evidently for them there was not sufficient motivation to try to redeem their grade!

Let's be honest, for by so doing, the students will learn the lesson: Failure matters. If you have not put forth adequate effort and obtained minimally expected results, you will reap the consequence. It's true in the workplace and true on the field of sport; it is one of the most basic lessons every citizen of this country (and every illegal alien, for that matter) should learn.

1 comment:

The blogprof said...

Some day, the kids won't know how to spell "stupidity"