If editorials could be memes, this one would feature Tina Fey rolling her eyes next to the words, “Wish I had this grading system: Get credit for NOT turning in your homework.”
That used to be the Janesville School District’s policy. No joke. Students received 50% credit for not turning in their homework. Then the district “got tough” and reduced the credit to 40%.
Common sense has prevailed, thankfully.
This year, the district has declared students need to work for the grades they get. This year, the district will give zeros for missing homework. We applaud this move but find it strange the district spent years giving partial credit for doing no work.
The previous policy testifies to how far academic standards have slipped. After all, if you’re going to give 50% credit for doing zilch, why not just give every student 100%—straight A’s for all?
Well, the real world doesn’t operate like that, and therein lies the problem. Giving students partial credit for doing nothing only sets them up for failure.
No employer who wants to stay in business counts missing work as some work. On the assembly line, an unfinished product is an unfinished product. It’s never 50% complete unless it’s 50% complete.
The previous district policy also allowed students to retake tests, as if in the real world people get an unlimited supply of redos. Can’t get the concept? Try again—and try at your own leisure.
The new policy is an improvement because it sets a firm deadline. Students now have only five school days to retake tests after their initial tests are returned.
We wonder how these grading changes will fly with a student body that’s been conditioned to believe it can get something for doing nothing. Once people get handouts, it’s difficult to wean them off.
Ultimately, the new standards are the tough love these students require. Students who plan to attend college are in for a rude awakening if they think they can keep their grades afloat by not doing their homework.
Indeed, colleges have complained about student unpreparedness and the need for many of them to enroll in remedial courses.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that 36% of Janesville Parker graduates who enrolled at UW colleges had to take remedial math courses, according to 2016 data. The rate for Craig High School was 15.9%.
Superintendent Steve Pophal, who started his job in 2017, has put a premium on preparing students for the real world, and he deserves credit for implementing the grading changes. This is essentially how education functioned before new-age thinking turned it into a pity party for students who fail to do their work.