Four years ago, the Eminence Independent School District in northern Kentucky eliminated “D” as a passing letter grade and will now vote on whether or not students will have to earn a “B” or higher to pass. Officials will vote next month as to whether or not the 300 students enrolled in the school district will have to earn an 80 percent or better to pass their 2009-2010 school year. The school says that the first move to eliminate the letter D as a passing grade has dropped the failure rate and raised standardized test scores by 13 percent in middle school and 10 percent in high school. If the vote passes, the new grading scale would gradually eliminate the letter C as a passing grade until students adjust.

Many are not happy with this new proposal, especially parents. Two school systems in Maryland and Florida had tried similar policies, but they had to drop it because too many students were failing and had to be held back. Parents say it could keep them off of sports teams and damage their grade point average, making it more difficult for them to get into college. There, a 61 percent is a passing grade compared to the 80 percent that these students have to work towards in high school.

According to Todd Garvin, writer for the Glasgow Daily Times, it is unfair that adults are making children perform at twice the level that was required of them when they went to school. Who are they to even assume that all children are capable of scoring an 80 percent in every subject. Even at their best, there is always a subject that is too difficult for students to score at the current passing level. He also makes mention of the fact that teachers who notice that a student who is struggling is giving it their best effort will give a student a passing grade or even bump them up from a B to an A in some cases. When this happens, this student will end up with a GPA above 3.0 while a student in another school district who received the same treatment will receive a 2.9 GPA.

In my opinion, raising the bar for students is not going to make them work any harder, it’s just going to make it look like it is. Some students only do well enough to receive a passing grade. If they have to work harder to do it, they might just give up altogether and take a failing grade, quite possibly even lower than the grades they were receiving before. Proficient students will be doing the same amount of work as well since

the percentages for A’s will not change. Students who tend to fail a lot of tests will be given even more incentive not to try because it means they will try harder. In the end, students have already made up their minds about how well they plan to do in school. Changing letter grades is only going to affect average students, and in the end, it won’t be for the best.

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