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This is actually a good idea

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As long as the material doesn't get easier, making 70 the minimum passing grade sounds just fine by me. A lot of the tech schools I've attended in the military require an 80 to pass.

Making the grade – harder

Eminence eliminated D's, now targets C's

EMINENCE, Ky. -- Four years ago, administrators, faculty and parents in this small, independent school district decided that a D just wasn't good enough to pass -- so they got rid of the grade.

"Getting a D is like doing the bare minimum," said Carter Martin, a middle and high school business teacher. "Life isn't like that."

It worked so well that now the district in Henry County is talking about doing away with C's too.

If the school board agrees next month, the district's roughly 300 middle and high school students will have to get at least a B to pass a class by 2009-10 -- scoring no lower than 80 percent.

As the neighboring Oldham County Public School system debates whether to adopt its own no-D grading policy for its eight middle and high schools, Eminence staff members say their success has them ready to take the next leap.

Since eliminating D's, the district says it has seen its failure rate drop, and its standardized test scores have risen 13 points in middle school and 10 points in high school.

"We raised their standards, and they met them," said Steve Frommeyer, principal of Eminence's middle and high schools.

Even students who initially worried about the no-D policy say they are now believers.

"I thought everyone would fail," said Ethan Keiser, a 16-year-old junior. "But we were actually pushed a lot harder, and students really kicked in gear. It got a lot more people focused."

Not everyone is sold, however.

Nationally, at least two school systems -- one in Maryland and another in Florida -- abandoned the policy because too many students were failing.

It also has had its share of critics in Oldham County after two high schools there decided two years ago to abolish D's. Since then, the failure rate has more than doubled at North Oldham High and increased 2 percentage points at Oldham County High.

Some parents say the policy has damaged their children's grade-point averages and unfairly forced students off athletic teams.

"There are kids with learning disabilities that are falling through the cracks," said David Miller, who pulled his son out of North Oldham High School after he failed several classes under the policy. "This policy seems to be a way to push them through the cracks more quickly."

Eminence officials say that districts considering a grading overhaul should phase it in one grade at a time.

The district learned that the hard way after it eliminated D's for all middle schoolers in 2002. The failure rate jumped from 5 percent to 18 percent, with many students being held back that year.

"We made a mistake in hindsight," Frommeyer said. "It was frustrating for everyone."

Frommeyer said the new grading scale would eliminate the C grade gradually.


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D's are dumb anyways. They mean you haven't demonstrated competence in an area, but you still get to pass. That's especially true the way grades are inflated today. You see this a lot in engineering: A kid will make a D in some fundamental engineering class. Nine times out of ten his grade is equal or worse in the higher level courses that draw on those fundamentals. Its very hard to go back and re-learn subject matter when you're covering more advanced material.

I've been wishing for a while that Auburn (at least the College of Engineering) would require a C or better in certain fundamental courses. Many would protest that we're harming students and all, but

1) usually they're the ones harming themselves by having mis-ordered priorities

2) in the long run, it would actually help the students out. If a student doesn't grasp the pure fundamentals, they're not going to have a good shot at grasping advanced material. Its better to recognize that earlier than later, as a change in major, or other steps can be taken, to lead to a more successful collegiate career.

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What a great idea. Jeez, a school actually raising standards in a meaningful way.

I have three kids. They know that only As make me happy. Bs are okay, but also mean that you didn't try hard enough. And Cs just are unacceptable.

My son brought home a C last year in math. Hoo boy. I took away his gameboy and his iPod until he raised his grades. He whined about it, but went from a C to an A by the next grading period.

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