The Grade of D Needs to Indicate More than a Pulse

My town’s local school board just voted to change a decades old rule that required students to have a minimum C average in order to graduate: 2.0 on the 4.0 scale.Not anymore. Now it’s possible to graduate with the lowest possible average that counts as a D.Beginning with the 2008 school year, students will be permitted to graduate with a D average. Teachers vary, of course, as to what they require for the grade of D. For some, attendance and a pulse is enough.

In a previous article I defined the grades of A, B, C, D, and F according to what they often indicate and what they “should” indicate for the student of English. If the action of my local school board is any indication, teachers need to reevaluate the significance of the grade of D.

If a D average is “good enough” to permit a young person to obtain a high school diploma, then it ought to indicate some minimum of acquired learning.Previously I described the requirements for the grades of C and D in English as follows:

C : adequate mastery of the subject. For example, a C in English should indicate that the student is able to write complete sentences, spell basic vocabulary, and use grammatical structures correctly.D: some learning is taking place, but the minimum has not been mastered.

D: For the student of English, a D should indicate that the student may be doing the assigned work, but has not mastered basic grammar, composition, and spelling skills and lacks adequate reading skills.

In the light of what may prove to be a trend, I would alter these minimums as follows:

A GRADE OF C should indicate that the student is able to write a reasonably coherent composition of five or more paragraphs without faults of basic grammar, usage, or spelling.

A GRADE OF D in English should indicate that the student is able to write complete sentences, spell basic vocabulary, and avoid the most basic errors of verb and pronoun use: Ex. Him and me went to the movies; I have wrote a paper for English class. The D student in the 12th grade ought to be able to read fluently at least at an 8th grade level.

I do not fault my local school board for their decision. If the grade of D permits a student to pass a course, then it’s logical that a collection of Ds should be sufficient to earn a high school diploma.It is now up to teachers to see that a grade of D reflects a minimum amount of learning. Anything less will assure only that students who graduate with a D average leave school with a meaningless piece of paper and a false idea of their employability.