Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seattle high-schoolers get F's for the First time in 7 Years

Seattle high-schoolers can now get failing grades

For the first time in seven years, Seattle public high-school students who do poorly can receive a failing grade on their report cards. Since 2000, not a single student has received an E, a mark more commonly known as an F. High schools instead handed out N's for "no credit," which didn't affect a student's grade-point average and took much of the sting out of failure.
When students receive an E or an N, they don't get any credit toward graduation. The E, however, counts as a zero when calculating a student's grade-point average. An N does not. So a student with three A's and three E's would have a grade-point average of 2.0. A student with three A's and three N's would have a perfect grade-point of 4.0.
Still, the fact that Seattle students could fail four classes, get two As and still have a perfect GPA "seemed a bit ridiculous," said Tim Ames, a social-studies teacher at Nathan Hale High School.

Un-acknowledged failure was not just present in the boardrooms of fat-cats looting their companies with obscene pay for themselves. I suppose if the society doesn't want accountability practicing it with high school students is not the worst place for non-accountability.

In my opinion, we need more accountability everywhere, including for high school students. I came very close to failing calculus in high school. If I had failed it fine, give me an F. While requiring accountability in other areas in more important than for high school student's grades, still I think restoring the acknowledgment of failure is a good idea.

The logic of those defending the practice of "Es" makes little sense. They talk of "they'll miss the flexibility that the N allowed, especially the ability to send students a message without putting a big dent into their GPAs." The difference of one D versus one F is not huge (on a 4 year GPA). For a semester it can have an effect but jeez if you don't like that effect don't use the semester GPA for significant decisions (I don't see much justification for using it - though I acknowledge there is a challenge in how to deal with students, parents, coaches... that care more about athletics than learning and how you deal with trying to enforce some level of learning...).

Related: Creating a Nation of Wimps - Alumni of Seattle high schools

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