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Teacher Argues for the Permanent Elimination of D Grades

Teacher Argues for the Permanent Elimination of D Grades

One high school teacher is making the case for the elimination of D grades because he feels the "sub-mediocre" grades that still earn students class credit severely limits students' options for the future.

"In my correspondence with former students who have already graduated, I have observed that the kids who became accustomed to Ds in high school often struggle if and when they’re in college because they never developed the academic and personal skills necessary to succeed there," says high school teacher Andrew Simmons to The Atlantic.

He discusses an example of success from a charter school in Los Angeles he worked for that eliminated D letter grades for good. An F in this school was earned after a student scored under 62.5 percent, and the change had a significant impact on the number of seniors who were accepted to college. An astounding 90 percent of the school's seniors that year received invitations to attend higher education, Simmons said.

"The elimination of Ds at the charter school required teachers and counselors to frequently remind struggling students of their precarious status and give them, when needed, extra help before school and at lunch. Tellingly, the strategy worked at a small school with a small student-to-counselor ratio," he said.

He goes on to argue that distributing Ds benefits schools more than it does students, because districts are wary of dealing with sanctions that come from too many failing students and may not have the resources to help an increased number of failing students get their grades up.

"Even a year in which the failure rate doubled or tripled would be dangerous. Many schools couldn’t provide the aggressive counselor interventions and tutoring a gradebook without Ds might require. But if Ds are markers of adequacy that everyone recognizes as inadequate, doling them out seems illogical and cynical."

Simmons views distributing Ds as allowing for unmotivated learners to "opt-out" versus give them the opportunity and mentorship to get better and strive for future success.

"There’s nothing wrong with deciding against college, but a high-school education should give all students the opportunity to sort through as many options as possible. Allowing them to opt out at the age of 14 shouldn’t be one."

Read Simmons' full argument here and take our poll to express your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


Should schools get rid of D grades?

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