Goodbye, Standards – Hello, Progress: Virginia School District Proposes Banning Homework, Extra Credit, and Essentially Grades Altogether Thanks To “Unlimited Retakes”

Goodbye, Standards – Hello, Progress: Virginia School District Proposes Banning Homework, Extra Credit, and Essentially Grades Altogether Thanks To “Unlimited Retakes”

The Arlington County School Board in Virginia recently introduced a proposal that would essentially eradicate the grading system as we know it.

According to Fox News, the proposal would force educators to allow their students an unlimited number of retakes on assignments, ban giving out extra credit, and would effectively eliminate homework completely by prohibiting it from being graded at all. 

As justification for the radical changes, proponents of the new system claim that certain basic standards – like having late penalties in education – could potentially harm poor and minority children who they claim may not have access to resources necessary to complete assignments on time.

“Additionally, it has been suggested that students should not be graded on homework assignments because the fear of making mistakes will have a negative impact on their learning process,” Fox News added.

By every available definition, that is the epitome of ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’ 

Naturally, the proposal sparked outrage among parents whose children attend schools in Arlington County, but – somewhat surprisingly – even some of the traditionally-woke educators strongly opposed the ridiculous plan. Numerous teachers from the area slammed the proposal, saying that it would give children a blanket free pass while dramatically reducing the quality of education in the county.

Teachers at Wakefield High School in Virginia even sent a letter to the Arlington County Superintendent pushing back against the plan, calling it an outright “nightmare scenario” for teachers that would be detrimental to the students who are supposedly benefitting from the equal-opportunity grading system, according to Fox News.

From the letter:

“As educators with decades of experience in APS, we are extremely concerned with several changes proposed in the new grading and homework policy.

We believe that these changes will impact student learning and socio-emotional development and growth in a negative way. The changes, if implemented, will also result in the decline of high expectations and rigor in the classroom across all APS high schools.”

Finally, given the emphasis on equity in today’s education systems, we believe that some of the proposed changes will actually have a detrimental impact towards achieving this goal. Families that have means could still provide challenging and engaging academic experiences for their children and will continue to do so, especially if their child(ren) are not experiencing expected rigor in the classroom.

Students who come from families which are not as ‘savvy’ or ‘aware,’ will be subject to further disadvantage because they will not be held accountable for not completing their homework assignments and/or formative assessments according to the deadlines set by their teachers. 

Such results are anything but equitableconversely, they offer our most needy students reduced probability of preparing for and realizing post-secondary opportunities.”

A spokesperson for Arlington Public Schools told Fox News that the district is still in the process of evaluating current policies, which is a multi-phased process that will take months. A final decision on this policy should be made when the School Board convenes in May.

From Fox News:

“‘This work is being done as part of the School Board’s work to update all policies and PIPs,’ a spokesperson said. ‘As of right now, we are having preliminary conversations with instructional staff as to what makes sense in policy and what makes sense in practice at schools.’

There are two phases of the process before the School Board is scheduled to act on any recommendations in May. As part of Phase1, we provided some ideas for staff to look at as a starting point and asked all Instructional Lead Teachers to gather feedback from school-based staff on the first working drafts. This is the first of several opportunities for all teachers to provide feedback. Selected staff from each building will also participate directly in the revision process in Phase 2.’”

In other words, there is still time to ensure this radical policy never sees the light of day. If you are a concerned parent in Arlington whose kids attend a school in the district and want to attend any upcoming school board meetings or contact them directly, you can do so here.

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