Boots & Sabers

The blogging will continue until morale improves...


Everything but tech support.

1441, 29 Dec 20

Improving Grades By Eliminating Bad Grades

Remember that the kids who are learning nothing in these schools will one day be your mechanics, doctors, employees, and maybe your boss. Let’s hope that the can find an education after leaving school.

The San Diego Unified School District, for instance, moved this fall to abolish its traditional grading system. Students will still receive letter grades, but they won’t reflect average scores on papers, quizzes, and tests. Under the new system, pupils will not be penalized for failing to complete assignments or even show up for class, and teachers will give them extra opportunities to demonstrate their “mastery” of subjects. What constitutes mastery is not quite clear, but grades “shall not be influenced by behavior or factors that directly measure students’ knowledge and skills in the content area,” according to guidance from the district.


1441, 29 December 2020


  1. jonnyv

    I feel like there is room for a new system to grade students and for students to show their mastery of a subject. Many students just don’t perform well in some environments or with standardized tests.

    But as a parent, I would like to know a little more solidified answer as to how that would be. And I don’t think that you necessarily need to do this with all classes either. I think that a hybrid option could be available.

  2. Mar

    “Many students just don’t perform well in some environments or with standardized tests.”
    Jonnyv, you say you are a small businessman.
    Would you say the same thing to an employee who cannot complete a task or do things wrong?

  3. Tuerqas

    Good point Mar.
    Looking back at my school experience, I could ‘show mastery’ before a lot of my classes started. Do I get an A right off the bat without taking the class? This is just another means to drag everyone else down even farther. It is not targeted at the bright students, but they could both benefit in grades, but be hurt the most by it, learning to ‘excel’ doing nothing or the bare minimum. I got a lot of Bs and Cs because the class and especially the homework was too basic and I was bored. So now I get As because I can demonstrate mastery? What possible motivation do the above average students have to do any work in that environment?

  4. Tuerqas

    I meant to add – Much less go to class at all.

  5. jonnyv

    Mar, depends on the employee. If I feel they just need a little help, then I can accommodate them. If I didn’t feel like they fit the role, I would try to find them another position. And sometimes people just don’t work out.

    As far as Tuerqas comment. I would love to see them have some sort of option that if you can show mastery of something, then you move up to a higher skill level. My kid is in 6th grade, but can do 8th grade math, so find a way to push them. Otherwise, yes… why bother showing up at all?

    And honestly if the kids can show mastery of something and you are NOT going to push them further, why bother having them there?

    If a 3rd grader can perform at a 5th or 6th grade level, is it the teachers job to teach 5th grade curriculum to 1 student? Is it the teacher’s job to upset the flow of his/her classroom to accommodate a single child? The teacher needs to focus on the majority of the students and where they are at. Obviously this is a much bigger question when you have outliers on either side.

    And I have both, my son is 1 or 2 grades above his classmates in most subjects. My daughter is special needs in 3rd grade, but is barely at a kindergarten levels for most things. I don’t have the right answer. I don’t want my daughter left behind, but I also don’t want to disrupt the majority of the classes progress either. She benefits from a one on one tutor, but the district can’t provide that for her. Just as my son could probably use one for advanced classes. But I don’t think he would be ready to be with kids 3 years older than him either. Rock & Hard Place.

  6. Tuerqas

    Well said Jonnyv, and I understand the problem. It has always been one of the biggest conundrums in education on how to cater to the gifted, the average and the challenged at the same time. And of course it doesn’t help that a child could be ahead of grades in English, yet behind in math, etc.
    Modern liberal PC education has simplified it. They don’t want any pejorative labels on any one, so no more advanced classes. They want no one to lose or feel bad, so they have all but abolished advanced learning programs and are in the act of eliminating more and more competitive endeavors. Less grades, less sports less activities in the classroom pitting students against each other etc. The unfortunate result is that the gifted are left the most behind in terms of potential, We no longer celebrate excellence, we celebrate aspirations to mediocrity.
    Perhaps Virtual learning could help fix that. If classes are virtual maybe a third grader could be taking 4th grade english and 2nd grade math. There would be little bullying the advanced or ridiculing the challenged if they aren’t ever really together without the teacher present.

  7. Mar

    Jonny, used to be a special education teacher and if your daughter benefits from a 1 on 1 tutor, the district has to provide it. Push for it.

  8. jonnyv

    Mar, I appreciate the advice. Actually my wife has her masters in SpEd. She was also the head of the birth to 3 program under Scott Walker for a while.

    Just because she would benefit with a 1 on 1, doesn’t mean they have to provide it. Lots of stuff with IEPs and such. I leave a lot of that to my wife as she has a much higher understanding of it than I do.

    Because of COVID we have had the benefit of a 1 on 1 during the day for my daughter, paid for by the state. And for the most part it has been wonderful. It might be something we push VERY hard for when next year’s school is back in session.

Pin It on Pinterest