Mere Seat-Warmers Don’t Deserve a Passing Grade

You can’t get educated just by warming a seat. So help me, I once had a “student” in one of my French classes who never did anything but come to class. He was pleasant and well-behaved, but he would not participate in class exercises and most certainly would not do the daily homework assignments. Naturally he failed the quizzes and tests. Except for a perfect attendance record, he had a grade average of near zero. Towards the end of the semester when I suggested that he start thinking about what course he could find to replace French in his schedule, he protested indignantly:

“But I need both semesters to get my foreign language credit!”

Somewhere this student had acquired the idea that mere attendance deserves a passing grade.Teachers at every grade level need to examine their grading practices.

A particular letter grade–even a D–should reflect a specific level of mastery.

Teachers should not play Russian roulette with test averages or give credit for the fact that a student stayed in his seat.

A grade of D should reflect a mastery of specific minimum requirements for the course.

By all means, let attendance count for something, but not for more than 10% of the final grade.Too many school authorities lower standards to permit “students” to play ball and even graduate with a D average. Since this is the case, a D average needs to indicate that the student has a minimum grasp of the skills and information that has been presented to him in his courses.

The Grade of D Needs to Indicate More than a Pulse

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