Sigh. Some people just make me shake my head
I discovered this little gem while I was reading my October 2005 issue of NEA Today magazine in the "Talkback" section:
Ignorance they say is bliss, but that is no excuse to take it out on students because of your antiquated, outdated rules on giving a zero. ("Talkback," September) Every time you give a zero, you skew the results negatively. To stop the skewing because of a large difference between a 64 (a D-grade) and 0 you should never give a grade lower than 10 points below your lowest passing grade (say, a 55). With that, the student can work to improve his numerical grade and that equates to "fairness." Russell Cadman, Union Gap, Washington
Wow. Where to begin? There's so much there with which to amuse oneself.
First, Russell, let me say that your use of punctuation and mathematics indicates that you were one of those-- cough-- 55 percenters in these two fields. How lovely that you are
Second, let's examine a hypothetical situation.
Student X does no work during most of the semester, for which he receives a 55% in Russell's class. He turns in 3 assignments in the last week of the term, thus making his final grade a 70- a C.
Student Y has difficulty in the subject at hand, but he busts his hump, staying up late at night, going to tutoring after school and so on. Sometimes he earns a 60%, sometimes he earns an 80%. At the end of the semester, he has earned a 70%- a C.
Student Z has great mastery of the subject, works diligently, and earns a grade of 100%-- an A. (Student Z could take over for the teacher on days he is absent.)
So here are a few questions for you, Russell:
1) Would you want Student X wiring your house, collecting your garbage, teaching your children, or performing surgery upon you?
2) How does it feel to make students Y and Z feel like the stupid ones in this scenario? Have YOU succeeded (I assume that your numbers racket will eventually be justified as a quest for self-esteem) in whatever it was you wanted to accomplish here?
3) Student X did 15% of the work and got the same grade as student Y, who showed mastery of 70% of the material. Why should student Y drive himself or deprive himself from pleasure-seeking for the same result as student X?
4) Does everybody get 55% added to their grades, or is it just the lazy? If so, how do you still base your grades on a 100 point scale?
5) Does anyone pay attention or even bother to show up to your classes most of the time? Do you actually care if anybody learns anything?
6) Why are you in a classroom, Russell? What is your purpose? Please think long and hard about this before you waste another minute of another student's time.
F has a range of 59% in most grading systems because we want people who "pass" to demonstrate that they have learned a majority of the material-- even a supermajority. It's not just to be mean.