The days of students suffering because of red-inked corrections and failing grades may be coming to an end.
Teachers and parents have been making news lately for decisions that will alter how children are informed that they lack certain skills in the classroom.
Volusia County passed a proposal for Sunrise Elementary School in Deltona to begin using a new grading scale in January. The change includes the introduction of the grade ‘I’ for ‘In Progress’. ‘I’ will replace the standard grades of D and F. The move is being made to encourage students and ensure that they “will learn,” instead of just believing that they “can learn.”
The ‘I’ grade will be delivered with a checklist that will serve to notify parents of where their children are struggling and be used as an outline of what instructors should focus on.
If it is successful, the rest of the county may use Sunrise Elementary’s system as a model for grading.
The experiment will face various difficulties. The increased amount of individual attention will multiply the strain on instructors. To compensate, the school may need to increase funding to ensure there are enough educators available to assist the process.
In a move similar to Sunrise Elementary’s abolishment of Ds and Fs, parents and teachers in Connecticut and New York are trying to eliminate the use of red pens for grading. They are concerned that the negative connotation of the color discourages students. Certain schools and teachers have begun replacing red pens with purple ones.
While it is logical for schools to streamline their methods to ensure that students are taught in the most efficient way possible, if these changes were to become part of a greater model they could do more damage than good.
Society works in part because different people serve in different capacities. Individuals often learn where they fit best not just by their successes, but also by their failures. Subpar or late work could lead to the loss of a job in the workforce, or academic probation in the collegiate setting.
Removing the letters D and F from grading scales does not mean that students’ work is no longer being quantified, as the other letter grades are still in place. Using a purple pen does not change the errors that it is marking. By disguising student inadequacies, the educational system is in danger of failing in their primary goal: preparing students for life beyond school.