Teachers on Grades

Found a blog entry on A’s and B’s as academic entitlements from Right Wing Nation hosting the Carnival of Education. Very well written.

The author writes, “I know this is a wacky notion but I think only those people who follow directions and put in the effort should receive the higher grades. But again, when did a C equate to “failing”?”

And I actually came up with an answer. Well, a few actually.

I think I can see a reason why a C has come to mean failure. We take average as a negative attribute, so a C, which is average, is negative. We don’t want to be average. Being average means having failed.

Grad school certainly equates a C to failing. If I receive two C’s, I am washed out. That makes a C at least a half-failure. Of course, an F and you’d be out on your keester immediately, so a C isn’t really failure, but half… Yes, it is half.

Transferring… C is the lowest passing grade you can get and transfer credit. Which means that a C is, if not a failure, at least BAD. When you transfer, no one takes your D’s or F’s. Only the C’s. Which means that they’re the lowest score you could have. Which means you probably have lots of other scores which didn’t transfer. (Or people might assume you do.)

Now I personally agree with Strausser on the need to hold grades to a standard. And I have far more F’s and W’s in my classes than I have C’s or A’s and B’s.

In my classes I have students rewrite papers and I average the grades. Even with that only those students who actually write well and turn in all their work get A’s. And a student can turn in all assigned work and still not pass, although it is hard to do that. But not impossible. If the student is really not able to write, they could fail. (I do have one safeguard in for me that weeds out those who don’t care enough to actually correct their papers. If a student does not correct all the notations I make on the paper, I double the points off. So if it was two points, the error loses four points on the re-grade. Why should I waste my time if they won’t spend theirs wisely?)

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