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Middle school eliminates ‘F’ from grading scale to encourage learning, not failure

Grades will only be based on what the student knows and not include outside factors like...
Grades will only be based on what the student knows and not include outside factors like tardiness to class, turning the assignment in late or neatness.(WVLT)
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 12:25 PM EDT
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WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (Gray News) – A middle school in Minnesota is making changes to the grading scale to exclude anything less than 50%.

Sunrise Park Middle School principal Christina Pierre explained the new grading system in a video posted online, indicating that an “F” would no longer be used.

“Our whole intent is to ensure that grades focus on the process of learning,” Pierre said in the video. “We want them to become good learners.”

Minnesota’s superintendent, Dr. Wayne Kazmierczak, led the development of an equity commitment statement during the 2018-19 school year and adopted a four-way equity decision to guide the district’s work.

Part of the equity audit showed grading disparities among students of color, according to the school district’s website, prompting the district’s strategic plan to dramatically change its grading practices.

“Dr. Kazmierczak and WBLAS believe grades should be a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in a given course,” the school district wrote on its website in 2020. “Grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home.”

Pierre explained grades will only be based on what the student knows and not include outside factors like tardiness to class, turning the assignment in late, or neatness.

Associate Principal Norman Bell said students are encouraged to retake or revise quizzes, papers and projects in an effort to enforce learning the material.

“We realize that not every kid gets it the first time. Some students need more time to learn than others,” Pierre said in the video. “So, we are giving them that 10-day window for revisions and retakes.”

School leaders also explained that by eliminated grades under 50%, a student who may have passed two assignments but has an “incomplete” for the third, would still have a passing grade instead of failing.

They encourage parents to remind students to stay caught up on work, turn in late assignments and make revisions on work with low grades.

“We really want to encourage our students to put in the work that it takes to learn correctly,” Pierre said to end the video.

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