Grade Recovery is Overused

Last Tuesday, I wrote about my experiences with grade recovery as it is practiced here in Jacksonville.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to read it, it’s located here.

An unsigned editorial appeared in the Florida Times-Union on December 18, 2011.  This is what it said.

“In the old days, there used to be something called the ‘gentleman’s C.’

It was awarded to students who tried hard, couldn’t quite do the work, but were passed anyhow.

In more recent years, they were called ‘love grades’ for students who don’t cause the teacher any trouble.  They received a good grade in return.

Now the Duval County school system has a new, modern, computerized version.  It’s called grade recovery.

Rather than fail a nine-week course, a student in many cases can take computerized lessons in a few days and turned an F into a C. it has become so popular that the numbers have exploded.

A Times-Union investigation by reporter Topher Sanders documented that more than 28,500 students– the size of a suburban school district– used grade recovery last year.

The growth has been astounding–up from 11,600 middle and high-school students in 2008-2009.

And little wonder since school officials from the superintendent on down praise it.

Yes, grade recovery has been turned from helping students with extraordinary issues like family illness into an incentive to avoid regular class instruction.

Superintendent Ed-Pratt Dannals (pictured here) says grade recovery is a modern device to let students focus on the areas in which they need improvement without having to retake an entire nine weeks of school.

He grants that students can game the system, but he thinks it’s only a few.  He has looked into ways to deal with that but does not have a solution at the moment.  After all, some students are taking all their courses via computer in virtual school, he said.

The policy used to be that teachers would grant grade recovery if a student had made a ‘good faith’ effort in the classroom.  But some teachers were very lenient and some were strict, so the school system decided to leave it up to the students, Pratt-Dannals said.”

Leave it up to the students?  He’s just asking for trouble here.

Coming Tuesday: Is Grade Recovery Actually Slacker Recovery?