Drop the D!


I read the article in the NY Times about the school in Mt. Olive, NJ that is one of the most recent to drop the D as a possible grade.  Now students can only receive an A, B, C or F.  I think this is a wonderful idea.

As the article mentions, who really wants D-level work?  When you need surgery, do you want a D surgeon performing it?  When your car needs a tuneup, do you want D quality?  How about at a restaurant?  Would you tolerate D service?  Of course not.  So why should we see a D as being an acceptable passing level.

One could even argue that why should we allow a C?  This is already the case in most graduate schools.  To graduate, one needs to maintain a 3.0 (B) average.  Even one C (2.0) can result in a GPA that is too low to graduate.

Of course the students in the article aren’t too happy, but what does that say about their effort levels?  If a student is satisfied with knowing only about 65% of the material, isn’t there really something wrong?  In addition, teachers will have to think differently and possibly have to work harder along with the students.  I believe that the majority of teachers do want what is best for their students and will work hard for students to learn.  However there are also teachers who just want to get through their work day, move the students along and get a new batch next year.  A D effort from the students and the teacher achieves that.  But if that is now a failure and that student gets left behind, the teacher may also be on the hook.  Students will get frustrated if other factors are getting in the way of their learning and they may need the attentiveness of a teacher to recognize the student’s struggles and be available to help them get on the right path and to maybe even learn new study habits.

Dumb has sometimes been seen as being cool for a while now.  Hopefully this sort of move will help to change that.  It’ll get the students to where they should be in their learning.  I think this was a great move by the school system.


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