Who Really Fails When You Give Out an F?

Talking about grading can lead to heated debate. I have been in many of these conversations and I know that people have their own opinions. If you have been reading my blog, you would know that I am going toward Standards Based Grading. Here are my current thoughts on grading.

'Tis the season of grading! As the year wraps up, grades are what determines who gets to partake in end of the year activities. This made me reflect on grades and the whole practice of grading. Don't get me wrong, I think grades are okay when they really mean something - when they help a student really understand where they are and how they can grow.

So here is my question: Who really fails when you give out an F? I have some students who are not failing, but they are doing worse then I think they are capable of. Some people might think that the student is just lazy, but not me. I read a book awhile back called The Myth of Laziness by Mel Levine, and it made me look at the idea of laziness in a whole new way. Do we actually take the time to try to find the root of the problem or are we too quick to label a kid lazy?

I don't think there is an easy, clear cut answer to this question. I do want to see my students put in effort in my class, but shouldn't it be my job to inspire them to put in effort? So does the teacher fail when a student gets an F? Do we share the fail with the student? If we do share this fail, then why are the students the ones who cannot go on the end of the year field trip?


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