Senate Wants Students Able to Fail

The state wants to raise the bar that districts continually lower

To the relief of many, increasingly popular no-fail grading policies would be prohibited under new truth-in-grading legislation that was unanimously passed in the state Senate Monday.

The legislation would especially affect Dallas, which currently has several districts that will not allow grades under 50, and in some places even 70.

Though, at first glance, no-fail grading appears a serious mistake for the direction of education policy in Texas. Those in favor argue that the demoralization that results from making a mistake and receiving one or several zeros can blunt a student’s desire to recover their grade or lead to disciplinary problems and drop outs.

However, as the author of the legislation, Sen. Jane Nelson, of Flower Mound, points out, if students can pass without having to work hard, the quality of learning and meaning of grades would drastically decrease.

“Kids are smart and can figure it out,” she told the Dallas Morning News. “A student in one of these districts with a minimum grade of 70 can sit in class and say, ‘I don’t have to do any homework. I don’t have to answer any questions on tests and they still have to give me a 70, no matter what.’”

Many teachers argue that helping students overcome failure through extra work and effort equips them for the real world far better than removing the potential for failure all together. The legislation would also require teachers to create grading policies that accurately reflect students’ mastery of material. It will now continue on to the House.

Holly LaFon is a Dallas journalist who has written and worked for various area publications including D Magazine and Examiner.

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