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No More Failing – Or Expectations

It’s easy to skate through life when you really want to and when the competitive edge is taken away for you in high school, why should you take the harder routes?

The Washington Post reports that West Potomac High School is taking ‘F’ off its grade books and replacing it with an ‘I’ for incomplete.  According to the article, ‘[t]he change in educational philosophy is intended to encourage students to continue working toward mastery of material rather than accepting a failing grade and moving on.’

Of course, instead of improving the quality of education and getting the kids ready for the real world, let’s continue to coddle them even more by giving them extensions on their grades.

This is a bad idea.

The purpose of high school is to prepare you for the challenges of the real world. If a kid expects that he will always get an extension and he just can’t fail, that’s an unrealistic expectation for the rest of his life.  The competitiveness of high school is so the kids who worked for it are able to continue their education in college.

This new system, in my opinion, is something that will continue to separate those who have always worked hard for their grades and giving those who don’t put in the effort even more opportunity to skate by and graduate.

In college, you do have the opportunity to get an Incomplete with a year long extension to complete the work. This is only in extraordinary circumstances that you have to prove to your professor.  More often than not, unless the circumstances are obviously beyond your control, the professor will say “Sorry, try again.”

Because that’s how the real world works.

You don’t get constant opportunities to finish your work.  When you are given a task, you are expected to complete it on time. If you don’t?

You’re out. NEXT.

Life is a competition. There will always be people out there who are just as qualified as you, if not more, doing the same thing that you do. If you expect to skate through life, you will be sorely disappointed.

West Potomac High School, you want the kids to learn the material? Teach it to them in the proper manner.  Make sure that your teachers are qualified to properly tutor students when they have questions instead of throwing them into the readings without explanation.

Don’t give your students a way to cheat the system, and essentially, cheat themselves.

What do you guys think about this?  Is this a good idea?

I would love to hear from parents’ take on this particular issue.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Suburban Sweetheart November 15, 2010, 12:02 pm

    In some ways, I like this idea. There are too many places, too many schools, where one wrong move sets a kid back for a lifetime. Get depressed junior year & start failing some classes? You’re screwed. Forget that good college you were hoping for, working for, dreaming of – you’re repeating the 11th grade & working at a McDonald’s after high school while you try to convince the community college to take you. There are so many reasons – too, too many reasons – why kids do poorly in school, everything from physical illnesses to mental illnesses to family issues to abuse to having to become the breadwinner for their family. Call me a bleeding-heart liberal if you will, but I believe strongly that these kids deserve ways out, too, rather than a system that makes it too easy for them to fail & then keeps them down. Our education system already pushes these kids off the radar & writes them off; I, for one, favor ways to help them get back on the wagon, to erase their mistakes or the circumstances they couldn’t help, & to help them succeed.

    Maybe this isn’t the best way, & I don’t know what is. And, yes, I hate the idea of the stupid druggie stoners getting to skate by. But who knows what a second chance might do for them? I don’t know. I like to believe the best about people – especially kids.

  • Heather November 15, 2010, 12:47 pm

    I think it’s a disservice to the children. They don’t learn work ethic. They learn to want everything handed to them. It’s sad.

  • Liebchen November 15, 2010, 3:06 pm

    I’m with you – this really isn’t helping the kids. Most teachers are more than willing to work with students who really just aren’t getting the material. And I had several teachers in high school who would take into account a better grade on a final, for example, than a midterm, because it shows you learned. I don’t want kids to get screwed because of a mistake, or life circumstances, but if we keep teaching them that there are *always* second chances, we’re 1) not preparing them for the real world, and 2) creating a generation full of people who think they’re *entitled* to another chance…not ones who are necessarily willing to work for it.

    But, upon re-reading that, I realize I may have become a little cynical.

  • Erin November 16, 2010, 12:51 am

    I don’t think that getting rid of failing grades is a solution to any problem. Life isn’t fair, and sometimes people fail. School is supposed to be a safe place to learn about things like failure. If there is no chance of failure, is there truly such thing as success?

    I will say that Suburban Sweetheart brings up an interesting point. These days, one bad year in high school could potentially ruin your whole life. It seems a bit crazy to me that failing some high school courses, sometimes for legitimate reasons, could haunt you for the rest of your life. Still, I think that failing grades should exist. What we also need are teachers who care enough to notice and help a struggling student AND parents who support education and work to foster their child’s ability to learn.

  • @Nakeva November 18, 2010, 11:32 pm

    I think this idea is positive in one respect and a failure to prepare the younger world for the truth. Taking into account the recent elections: If you tell a kid there is a deadline to complete a term paper, it should be done by that time. With the option to receive an incomplete, they may take advantage of the system and get more time to complete the work. Put that to the test when they are able to vote. There is the aspect of getting your voter registration completed well before election day. There is a deadline time to get the vote in. If you miss either, you don’t get an incomplete to vote at a later time.

    The only positive is the mental notion that you are not a failure by seeing an “F”. However, if you fail for lack of doing the work, then you FAIL, but you, the person, are not a failure. Teach psychology classed early for that matter 😉

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