Mt. Olive schools remove D, may fail more students

July 27, 2010 2:58:47 PM PDT
One New Jersey school district just made it a whole lot easier for students to fail a class.

The Mt Olive school board voted 8-1 Monday night to do away with the 'D' grade. Supporters of the plan believe the change will motivate students. Others think it just makes it easier to fail.

"What if we set the bar higher? We think that the kids will reach and achieve even more," said Tracey Severns, a middle school principal.

Starting this fall, students at Mt Olive's middle and high schools will have to work harder to pass a class. What once qualified a student for a D, is now an F.

"You can work hard enough to at least get a 70," said Brittney Warren, a student.

According to the new grading system, if a student scores 69 percent or lower, he or she fails. A 70-79 earns a C, an 80-89 a B, and a 90-100 the coveted A.

"It makes them work harder, push them more and now there's help everywhere so I don't see a problem with it," Mercy Diaz, a parent, said.

Now that teachers will likely be giving more F's, the head of the Mount Olive teacher's union is concerned about the negative impact on students.

"An F is an F and you're done and you might as well quit. If you are not average or above, then you are a failure," said Steve Spangler, the Teacher's Union President.

Some community support raising standards, but think a different method, such as more tutoring or reaching out to parents, should be used.

"There are kids who don't have the ability to get a B or C, so they need that D to pass," said Jessica Martinez, a student.

Approximately twenty percent of the middle and high school students in this Morris County district get at least one D or F on their report card. Administrators are planning more afterschool help to accommodate the rise in failing or near-failing students.

Mt Olive is believed to be the first district in NJ to try this approach. One other school district in Kansas that did away with D's 7 years ago recently did away with C's too. Their students either get As or Bs or they fail.