School District Won’t Hold Failing Students Back Anymore

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Baltimore City Public Schools announced a new grading policy this week that allows the district to move tens of thousands of students who have failed at least one class up to the next grade level.

Chief Academic Officer Joan Dabrowski said via CNN that the change is meant to “avoid the punitive approach of failing students,” who will be assessed in the fall to complete their missed course.

Here are the details: a high school student with a failing grade will receive a “No Credit” instead of an E or F that’d force the student to stay back. Second through eighth grade students will see their failing “Unsatisfactory” or “Fail” remarks replaced with “Not Completed.”

While the idea that failing and passing students should move on together sounds like something AOC’s Squad would campaign for, Dabrowski says the decision actually comes as a result of students struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic. If that’s the case, and it’s not some bogus claim that test scores are racist, I’m fine with it. In fact, it’s the right call.

Of all our leaders’ poor decisions made over the past 12 months, the decision to force students to stay home remains the most inexcusable and consequential. No politician or teacher union rep can justify what they took away from students across the country. The lost social and academic growth over the past year could have ramifications for years to come. 

Virtual learning was never a practical alternative for most students.

Get this: Baltimore City Public Schools says that 63% of middle and high school students are failing at least one class. That’s nearly 25,000 students out of the 40,000 in the district. That’s not on the students — that’s on the decision-makers.

The data is just as damning for elementary students. In the same district, 51% of students in grades second-fifth and 37% in Kindergarten-first grade have failed at least one course this school year.

Students not only struggled to learn virtually, but some struggled to attend at all. Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises found that, at times, only 65% had even logged on.

This problem spans far beyond Baltimore. A study in May claims that almost three million children have dropped out of full-time school “because of the shift to virtual learning from in-classroom learning.”

Students have suffered enough. For now, exceptions should be made. Baltimore City Public Schools made the right decision. That said, this should be an exception that ends after next year when, hopefully, a normal school year nears completion. Don’t let this become permanent.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics..

Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.


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  1. Time to say the quiet part out loud…
    The film ‘Idiocracy’ really is coming to fruition before our very eyes.

    oh also —> ACT & SAT scores are now being dropped from admission in many colleges as well. Especially California (of course).

    This move is a concession. It’s a waving the white towel of surrender that admitting these kids are graduating with perhaps the ability to read… and that’s about it.

    I don’t want to be apocalyptic but we really are watching the unraveling in real time.

  2. I’m not a huge fan of Bill Maher, but he said it best a couple of months ago. The United States is now a silly country. Abolishing academic standards including programs for the truly gifted academically in order to appease mediocre or worse students and not hurt their feelings.

  3. Solution: Before blaming teachers and “the schools”….. before declaring “racism!” because certain demographics have a huge “achievement gap”: GIVE IQ TESTS !!!!
    Before blaming teachers for little Johnny’s failures, make sure that Johnny has “the stuff” to do well.
    There are lots of Johnnys out there that have iQs WELL below 90 (and we Westerners are not allowed to notice it out loud)
    Should I blame my PE coaches for failing to teach me to slam dunk a ball??? No, I’m not made up of the right stuff for that.
    Public Schools are serving too many masters: political correctness is #1 among them, unfortunately.

    • You are correct^

      In many ways it’s not the teachers . It’s culture. The black community has a 73% SEVENTY THREE. percent out of wedlock birth rate. It’s a one way ticket speed train to poverty. White folks aren’t making these men abandon their women.

      Hispanics are around 54% out of wedlock birth rate. And what do you know? The most fiscally successful demographic of Asians are below 20%. Go figure.

  4. So….just looking at Generation Y and Millennials, we already see how poor education is ruining this country, and yet now the idea is to advance whatever this generation is onwards in schooling, even if they can even multiply say 10×10?

  5. I’m a retired teacher who worked in an affluent school district. While some parents could be a pain in the ass, they at least gave a shit about their kids education. They held their kids accountable for their school work and their children developed good work habits. So many of them are incredibly successful today.

  6. Typical Soft Bob response. When was the last time the Baltimore School District made a correct decision? This is almost literally the definition of kicking the can down the road. The entire system is failing. Pushing them up the ladder only will dumb down the already failing experience kids were receiving prior to COVID. Lower standards NEVER get raised to their origin, especially by liberals.

  7. Yes, virus-related or not, the “good call” of advancing failing students will never be rescinded. So we’ll have 18 year olds graduating high school who can barely read or write. Then there will be plenty of woke companies ready to offer them employment beyond their capabilities, merit be damned. The Peter Principle has been turned over on its head….many are indeed being promoted past their level of competence. Just look at POTUS and his VP.

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