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Florida School District Eliminates Grades Below 50 In Controversial New Policy

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One Florida school board announced on Tuesday that it will eliminate grades that fall below a 50 in an effort to help students pass who might otherwise give up or drop out of school.

Despite objections from a group of teachers, the Orange County school board formalized the year-old practice of eliminating zero grades from middle and high schools this week. Though the new grading system won’t affect individual assignments, the end of a quarter or semester grades will no longer fall below a 50. Instead, the range for a failing grade will be 50 to 59.

Jesus Jara, the district’s deputy superintendent, said the move will allow students who have slipped up during a grading period to make up their grade during the remaining academic year. Superintendent Barbara Jenkins noted that if a student earns a 50 at the end of the first quarter, he or she must earn two A’s and a B for a final grade of C.

“That certainly indicates mastery,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins added that while 43 percent of students who were helped by pushing their grades to 50 percent over the past year still failed, she insisted that the move is nevertheless important.

Despite the school board’s approval of the new grading policy, many parents and teachers are upset by the change.

“I’m against inflating school grades in violation of our contract,” Wendy Doromal, a Timber Creek High School teacher, said. “This forces teachers to commit academic fraud and sacrifice their professional integrity. This also conflicts with state statues.”

Wendy Wing, a special-education teacher at Piedmont Lakes Middle School, argued that rewarding students who put little effort into their assignments does them a disservice. Edgewater Highschool freshman David Nwankwo agreed, noting that students who genuinely try shouldn’t be earning grades below 50 in the first place.

In opposition to the decision, parenting website The Stir suggested that the school district use their resources to give kids extra tutoring or move students into smaller classroom settings. 

Sources: The Stir, Orlando Sentinel

Photo Sources: Kati Morton, Flickr Creative Commons


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