Even as you read this, the books are hitting the fan at DISD headquarters as the media, parents, teachers and even students bore in on administrators who are supposedly "lowering the bar" by instituting rules that require teachers not to reduce student grades for late homework, allow flunked tests to be retaken without penalty, and allowing students to make up missed or late assignments without penalty, according to the DMN. This is an extension of a policy discussed by the DISD board awhile back, when the board reinforced a policy that some teachers in some schools followed that prevented a student from receiving a grade lower than a 50 regardless of how late or how little work or how poorly the student had done on an assignment.

The point, of course, is to prevent a kid who doesn’t see the value of school at one point in the year and handles school work accordingly (i.e., blows it off) from prematurely and permanently damaging his or her prospects of successfully completing high school. No doubt that’s a worthy goal, and from personal experience as a DISD parent, there’s no doubt that a number of DISD students — lacking support at home — need second, third and fourth chances.

But the policy essentially holds teachers hostage to lazy students (and there are plenty in DISD schools) and will make it difficult to enforce deadlines for all but the already-studious students — after all, who among us doesn’t wait until the last minute to do something, given that there’s no penalty for being a slacker.

Running an urban school district is an impossible task. I don’t see how loosening the rules this much is going to raise the bar of student achievement we’ve been repeatedly told needs to be raised.



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