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School district will investigate teacher’s no-fail policy for trying “really hard”

School district will investigate teacher’s no-fail policy for trying “really hard”

Dustin Hurst
August 26, 2015
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August 26, 2015
A Middleton Middle School teacher promised to pass students that try "really hard."
A Middleton Middle School teacher promised to pass students that try "really hard."

The Middleton School District will investigate a middle school teacher’s promise to pass all students meeting certain guidelines, even if the pupils fail course material.

Mike Friend, Middleton’s assistant superintendent and personnel director, told IdahoReporter.com his office will look into the policy and take corrective action if necessary.

“I had not seen this, nor is it District policy,” Friend wrote in an email. “ I'd like to investigate it further.”

The policy offers students a minimum 70 percent grade as long as they attend 90 percent of all classes, turn in all assignments and “put forth good effort and display good/positive behavior.”

“In other words, if a students [sic] grade is at 50%, but has shown good class behavior, tried really hard, turned all his/her assignments in and has established solid attendance, then his/her grade at the end of the year, will be bumped to 70%,” the teacher wrote.

At the end of the promise, the teacher even offered a moniker for the pledge.

IdahoReporter.com redacted the teacher’s name at the request of the Middleton parent who sent the document to this publication. The document, a course syllabus, went home with students last week, Middleton’s first week of its new school year.

Friend said the middle school teacher’s promise presents a problem for students and the district. “I do have a problem with promising a ‘passing grade’ regardless of the quality of work and/or the learning standards being met,” the district administrator wrote.

The policy, he added, might be well-intentioned. “I can see why this might give encouragement to some students with attendance, completed assignments, participation, expectations being met, but, I still have a concern as to the message that is being sent,” Friend wrote.

Friend did not outline how he plans to address the policy, other than by meeting with select middle school staffers to discuss the matter. He did not give a timetable for his inquiry.

IdahoReporter.com reached out to Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra’s office, but her spokesman did not return an email Tuesday.

It’s not the first report of potential ethical mishaps in classrooms. Earlier this year, an Atlanta judge sent nearly a dozen teachers and administrators to jail on racketeering and conspiracy charges after an investigation revealed widespread altering of student scores.

Chronicling teacher ethics, The Atlantic authors Alia Wong and Terrance F. Roth suggested America’s classrooms aren’t morally pure.

“Regardless, the growing prevalence in recent years of dishonest practices such as these suggests that something is amiss within America's schools,” the duo wrote in April. “Ultimately the biggest victims of these practices are the children."

Middleton students guaranteed to pass by DustinHurst

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