Split the difference

"Please," cry the teachers of Dallas, who are currently disallowed from giving their students any grade lower than a 50 percent, "let us bestow upon our pupils the grades that they in reality earn." Superintendent Michael Hinojosa scoffs at such pleas. He thinks if students do nothing early in a semester and receive zeros, they'll be unable to affect an academic turnaround later in the marking period. But if youngsters who complete no assignments nonetheless receive 50-percent credit for them, they can--if lightning strikes--still pull out a passing grade later in the semester. Such tortured logic, realized through the Dallas school code, magically accomplishes at least three undesirable goals. First, it shows students (and teachers) that their school grades are wholly fabricated. Whereas once perhaps As, Bs, and Fs meant at least something, they do no longer. Second, it lets teachers know that they have no autonomy in their classrooms, even in grading. And third, it mocks those who push for higher standards and more accountability, and it makes hypocrites of Dallas's school administrators. Bravo. We said it last week, we'll say it again: Dallas has problems.

"Dallas teachers ask for ability to give grades below 50," by Kent Fischer, Dallas Morning News, January 18, 2008 

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