A school district in Virginia reversed a change to its grading policy, allowing teachers to again give students zeros for not turning in assignments.
Last year, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) introduced a policy that made 50% the lowest grade for assignments or tests regardless of whether a student turned in the work or not, according to The Longfellow Lead.
Some educators believed it would provide a safety net to struggling students, while others criticized it for undermining the importance of timeliness and responsibility in academics.
This year, FCPS revised the grading policy to give teachers the authority to assign zeros to students who fail to turn in tests or assignments.
“For assignments or assessments that a student did not attempt, a student can receive a zero,” reads the district’s official website.
However, 50% remains the minimum grade a student can receive for turning in “a reasonable attempt to show evidence of their learning.”
The policy doesn’t define “reasonable attempt.”
David Walrod, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said the former policy allowed students to pass without doing the work.
“What was happening was students were realizing, if they put in a few weeks of work at some point, they didn’t have to do anything the rest of the year, and they would earn a passing score in a class,” Walrod said, according to WTOP. “And so, we were seeing things like students flat out saying, ‘I’m not doing this, because I’ll get a 50% on it.’”
Similar criticisms have been leveled against lax grading policies being instituted at schools around the country.
For example, an employee at a Kansas City-area public school district told The Lion that students have already learned to take advantage of its new grading system, which is nearly identical to Fairfax’s. To get a C in a class, students only need to do about 20% of the work, the employee said, adding that the whole system is “broken,” with classes “impossible to flunk.”
In Fairfax, while parts of the policy changed, the late work policy will remain the same. Students have up to two weeks to turn in any late assignment and can only be deducted 10% of their final grade for being late, says the school’s website.
In addition, the new policy doesn’t apply to teachers using a quarterly and rolling gradebooks.
“For teachers using a quarterly gradebook, the final quarter average for students who are below a 50% must be converted to a 50% to reduce the disproportionality of a zero on a student’s final mark,” FCPS official website states.