Maryland High Schools To Ban Failing Grades?

Maryland high schools in Prince George County are about to take a very big plunge into a new grading system that, ironically, will not take the grades themselves with them. According to NBC Washington, Maryland high schools in Prince George County will ban the idea of giving zero as a grade. The Maryland high school board in Prince George County convened to take up the notion of making the lowest grade a student could receive in the first three-quarters of the semester, a fifty.

Maryland high school students in the county can currently earn failing grades from zero to 59, which would earn them a letter grade of an “F.” The ban of the old grading scale of zero to 59 won’t be completely abolished per se, and the prior grade scale will be used in these particular Maryland high schools. However, it is only if the high school students show “effort.” Maryland elementary school students in the same county already are following this system.

These high school teachers in Maryland are also not allowed to factor a student’s behavior into the grading process.

Some Maryland residents in Prince George County find this potential move to be a step in the right direction to stop high schools students from quitting mid-semester, and to “reduce inequity” in the grades these students earn.

Maryland’s Prince George County Education Association protested this potential move in the local high school, and argued for the individuality of each educator.

“Our teachers are professional educators and each educator has a class system for late work. Is your name on a paper good faith? How is this making students college and career ready when we are not teaching the basic skills of being timely with your work?”

Maryland high schools and elementary schools were not the first to consider this change in grading that would make 50 the lowest potential grade. The Dallas Morning News reported, in 2010, on a similar move in Texas to utilize what they called “Minimum grades.” Houston area school districts filed a suit and won against the state decision to implement this grading system, and the ban of grades below 50. Unlike Houston and Maryland high schools, Dallas and Fort Worth schools still utilize this system. In fact, some of the Dallas and Fort Worth high school and elementary schools, only give grades as low as 70 in core subjects.

In 2013, Nashville Scene reported that another high school and lower grade schools in Nashville, Tennessee, also adopted this “Minimum grade” standard, and a ban on grades below 50 was implemented. That would make 50 the lowest grade school teachers were allowed to give.

Maryland, Houston, and Nashville were not the only ones dealing with the grading change, as even a college in Ohio had the very same discussion.

Fox News reported in May that Oberlin College student activists wrote up a petition to request that the school utilize the same “Minimum grade” standard all of these other high schools from Maryland to Houston have passed, rescinded, or are discussing a similar ban. Unlike the others, the Ohio college students want to ban all grades below C, which would effectively ban failing.

Oberlin College advocates, unlike the previously aforementioned Maryland high school, want the change in grading because the student body wants help, so they can devote the proper amount of time to protest and activism. In the 1970s, Oberlin College had made a similar move, but only temporarily.

This ban, in a time where public high schools are failing and charter, cyber, and home schools are on the rise, it seems odd that this would be a trend. Maryland high schools in one particular county will eventually decide if they wish to adapt such a grading system, as will any other school district that chooses to look into a “Minimum grade.”

What are your thoughts? Is this helpful or hurtful to high school students overall education? Is it too restrictive for high school teachers? Will it bring about positive change for students?

Leave your thoughts and opinions below.

[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]

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