Officials in a public school district about 50 miles north of San Francisco have found a new and exciting way to coddle kids. Under a new policy, students will be able to earn passing grades with scores of just 20 percent — and a solid C for doing absolutely nothing at all.
The lax, taxpayer-funded Cotati-Rohnert Park school district’s new grading system is called the equal interval scale, reports The Press Democrat, a newspaper out of nearby Santa Rosa.
The Cotati-Rohnert Park grade scale deviates from the traditional, well-established A-through-F scale by distributing grades in 20-percent increments from 0 to 100 percent, and by only giving grades of F for students with scores below 20 percent.
Thus, students who receive a score of 80 will be awarded an A-. In fact, any grade from 80 to 100 will be either an A or A-. By way of comparison, most students in America who score between 80 and 85 in a given class are sent home with either a B- or a B.
An accumulated percentage of 41 percent — which merits a well-deserved grade of F across most of the country — will now warrant a C- from the Northern California school district.
A measly percentage of 20-40 warrants passing grades between D- and D+.
Also, a school district-wide rule forces teachers to give every student a score of 50 percent even if they don’t complete a scintilla of homework or make an effort to mark down an answer on a test or quiz.
Paradoxically, then, students who refuse to do any work at all can be awarded a respectable C grade in the Cotati-Rohnert Park school district while students who actually put forth effort could receive lower D or F grades.
Some teachers detest the new system.
“This is just incomprehensible,” veteran Rancho Cotate High School English teacher Lanny Lowery told The Press Democrat. “I don’t have words.”
Middle school math and science teacher James Gregoretti suggested that arbitrarily raising F grades to C grades is the exact opposite of promoting education.
“This isn’t giving a student hope,” he told the local school board this fall, according to The Press Democrat. “It is lowering standards in order to raise grades.”
Gregoretti noted that he has a science student who will get a D- despite scoring just 23 percent.
Another middle school teacher, Peter Dudik, observed that students are already wising up to the massive grade inflation and not working as hard “because they know they don’t have to.”
Other teachers are thrilled with the new system.
“I found a lot under the old system that they were worried about the grades and less worried about the material,” Rancho Cotate High math teacher Adam Green told the newspaper. “Within the new system, it gives more of an opportunity for them to work their way toward an understanding of the material.”
Excited school district officials have also praised the generous grading system. The officials say students who are academically terrible won’t become demoralized as long as teachers are forced to hand out passing grades. And students who somehow manage a 19 percent or lower will remain encouraged.
“They’ve still flunked, but they don’t have as much to do mathematically to climb out of the F range,” district superintendent Robert Haley told The Press Democrat. “It doesn’t eliminate the F. It doesn’t lower the bar.”
In his welcome letter on the school district website, Haley assures parents: “Everything is awesome!”
Just one school board member, Leffler Brown, voted against the dramatic change to the grade scale back in June.
While many public school systems continue to maintain a modicum of integrity in their grade systems, the fad of capriciously doling out higher grades — or higher percentages — is catching on across North America.
In Orlando, Fla., for example, students who do absolutely no work now receive 50 percent as their quarterly grades. (RELATED: Students In Orlando Public Schools Now Get Grades Of 50 Percent For DOING NOTHING)
And up in Calgary, Alberta, letter grades have been slated to disappear altogether in favor of a new grading scheme which uses the terms “exemplary,” “evident,” “emerging” and “support required.” School officials said the new evaluation system is intended to provide a level of precision that a numeric percentage, say, or an A or a C totally cannot. (RELATED: Calgary Schools Plan To Drop Letter Grades)
UPDATE: The Cotati-Rohnert Park school district has released a statement suggesting that the district’s new grade scale is so convoluted that its own teachers cannot understand it.
The Press Democrat article contained many inaccuracies, most importantly the grading scale printed on the front page. Without explanation, it does look alarming. Teachers who understood how to implement it developed that scale, but unfortunately it has also been used by some who do not.
The interval equivalents need to be understood in order to compare the two. A student failing at the 59% level on the traditional scale would be scoring below 20% on the scale shown next to the article, but that was not made clear. This phrase, which was included with the scale in the paper, “Students who miss homework or tests get 50%” is false. There are other scales being used by teachers in our district and the comparisons need to be made with care, not haphazardly out of context.