What exactly are GRADE FLOORS?

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My morning started off quite interestingly with my attention being brought to the latest updates of our school district attempting to eradicate the immense amount of failure by adding grade floors that increases the baseline grade distribution for students.

Click here for news story.

Is this something new? Absolutely not. As far back as I can remember, we’ve been “giving grades” and in some cases were instructed to do this by school leadership. I remember several instances during my teaching tenure were it was “strongly advised” to not give students a zero (even though they hadn’t completed/turned in any assignments), but to at least give the student a 60% F. I thought it was absurd then and I still feel the same way. The argument around grade floor ranges from allowing students a workable playing field for makeup work and assignments to help increase the grade and to help boost self-esteem. Neither end of the spectrum of the argument works for me. I can only wonder what else the district will come up with to polish over academic deficiency of students opposed to nailing down how students are learning and ensuring that they do indeed learn.

My next inquiry and/or piece of concern lies with how does this “innovative strategy” align with college-readiness and the district’s goals around preparing students for post-secondary success in an institution of higher learning. The last time I checked (and I will admit, I’ve been away from a college classroom for quite some time) grades are not given by college professors in an attempt to level playing fields or possibly boost a student’s self-esteem and/or with the hopes that student will make up the work and increase the baseline scores. Grades are earned based on student performance.  That’s it. I really want to shed some light on what is not a new nuance but one that’s gaining more and more traction and being glorified as a way to help children. I totally disagree. So, I’ll end with just a quick plea to stakeholder groups:

Parents: The more uninformed you are, the less power you have. Get in the know please! District officials know that you don’t have a clue as to what’s happening inside of school walls. Please make it your business and a top priority to become as educated and informed as possible. It will save your child’s life.

Teachers: I refuse to believe all of you are on board with this. Matter of fact, many of you are not only my colleagues, but my friends. I know that you are totally against this. How do I know? Our private conversations that we have about your frustration and your anger with a system that continually setting our children up to fail and then having the audacity to call it innovation.  We need you to go public. We need you to speak up. Some officials are claiming that you all are on board with this. Are you? I know that a large part of the reason behind your silence is because at the end of the day, this is your livelihood. I get it. That check matters, but that check keeps getting cut year after year. At some point, something has to matter beyond the check.

Clergy/Church/Spiritual Leaders: Oh….how I wish these conversations could be held in the pews of churches with our clergy leaders aware, informed and equipped to pass on the right information to their parishioners. I know it’s wishful thinking, but I pray that someday our churches reclaim their place as the hub of communities and a trusted place for families to go and come to receive adequate knowledge regarding their futures and not just their spiritual futures, but their natural lives as well.

Yes! I wear several hats. I am an educator, consultant, clergy, community leader, advocate, executive director, etc.  More importantly, I am a parent; I am mom. My child’s name is Madison. So yes, I speak up because I care and because it’s personal.

I’ll wait on someone - anyone to rightfully justify grading floors.