The struggles of teenage life in America are real. Teenagers have to get out of bed in the mornings. They have to receive calls on their phones (paid for by their parents) that are permanently affixed to their bodies. They have to drink $5 coffees. In between those taxing activities, they have to go to school and occasionally do a little homework.
Seriously, the average high schooler does feel some pressure about his or her grades–either internal or external. Some teens truly stress about how they are doing in classes to the point of having legitimate panic attacks. But the fact is, the real world of work has stressors, and high school is a protected training ground to learn how to deal with those things that stress us in the work world. High school is the place where students can learn grit–the ability to stick with something even when it requires hard work and then doesn’t end in complete success.
But now, in Cotati-Rohnert Park school district, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, students no longer have the stress of doing school work. The grading system for the district has been completely revamped, and students who get a 20% or better are guaranteed a C. The Daily Caller outlines how it works:
The Cotati-Rohnert Park grade scale deviates from the traditional, well-established A-through-F scale by distributing grades in 20-percent increments from 0 to 100 percent, and by only giving grades of F for students with scores below 20 percent.
An accumulated percentage of 41 percent — which merits a well-deserved grade of F across most of the country — will now warrant a C- from the Northern California school district.
A measly percentage of 20-40 warrants passing grades between D- and D+.
Also, a school district-wide rule forces teachers to give every student a score of 50 percent even if they don’t complete a scintilla of homework or make an effort to mark down an answer on a test or quiz.
Paradoxically, then, students who refuse to do any work at all can be awarded a respectable C grade in the Cotati-Rohnert Park school district while students who actually put forth effort could receive lower D or F grades.
Thus, students who receive a score of 80 will be awarded an A-. In fact, any grade from 80 to 100 will be either an A or A-. By way of comparison, most students in America who score between 80 and 85 in a given class are sent home with either a B- or a B.
The new system is being met with mixed reviews. The Press Democrat reported these teacher reactions:
This is just incomprehensible,” veteran Rancho Cotate High School English teacher Lanny Lowery said. “I don’t have words.”
Middle school math and science teacher James Gregoretti suggested that arbitrarily raising F grades to C grades is the exact opposite of promoting education.
“This isn’t giving a student hope,” he told the local school board this fall, according to The Press Democrat. “It is lowering standards in order to raise grades.”
Gregoretti noted that he has a science student who will get a D- despite scoring just 23 percent.
Other teachers are thrilled with the new system.
“I found a lot under the old system that they were worried about the grades and less worried about the material,” Rancho Cotate High math teacher Adam Green told the newspaper. “Within the new system, it gives more of an opportunity for them to work their way toward an understanding of the material.”
Excited school district officials have also praised the generous grading system. The officials say students who are academically terrible won’t become demoralized as long as teachers are forced to hand out passing grades. And students who somehow manage a 19 percent or lower will remain encouraged.
“They’ve still flunked, but they don’t have as much to do mathematically to climb out of the F range,” district superintendent Robert Haley said. “It doesn’t eliminate the F. It doesn’t lower the bar.”
The district superintendent of Cotati-Rohnert Park schools is wrong. The new grading system does lower the bar, and it teaches the students there to have even more feelings of entitlement than their generation as a whole already does. Graduates from a school that uses this system to grade their work may as well have no grades. They will not have learned to earn anything. They will only learn to live mediocre existances and will have no drive to succeed. We may as well hand out their welfare debit cards with their diplomas on graduation day.