Student News Site of Silverado High School

Struggles in minimum F

February 10, 2023


Naomi Jackson

Two graphics demonstrate the unfair practice of making an F grade a greater percentage of the grading scale.

One of these changes in grades is the minimum F. If a student turns in an assignment incomplete, or gets most of the questions wrong, or doesn’t turn in any work at all, they will receive a 50% instead of a zero or low score that could tank their grade. 

“I appreciate the minimum F,” said senior Will Cox. “But overall it makes kids less energetic because it gives kids a low bar to participate.”

A major problem with minimum F is that it minimizes repercussions for students who don’t try. Unfortunately this can lead students not to complete any of their work with the assurance that they still will receive half credit. It also makes final exams worth a great deal less, as if students don’t take their exam at all their grade would only drop five percent, potentially not even changing their letter grade. 

“I don’t like the minimum F, it doesn’t make me work hard,” said sophomore Evyn Pallett. “You don’t get that in college. It doesn’t make kids do formative assignments and they don’t do their work.” 

Watching students place less and less importance on their work knowing that a minimum F (50%) ‘isn’t so bad’ compared to a 0% has hurt their overall education,” said Silverado teacher Matthew Philips. “It has become more difficult motivating students who are okay receiving D’s.  By earning at least a 72.5% in the first quarter, they can get a minimum F for all assignments and tests in the second quarter, and their semester exam, and still pass with a 60% D… which sadly is true.”

Michele Rhine, Assessment Department Coordinator, said, “Assigning the minimum score of 50 allows for students who don’t always learn things the first time to recover their grade when the content is mastered.” 

Under the old grading system, a score of anywhere from a zero to a 59.99 is a failure. That makes sense, because students who receive scores that low likely don’t really understand the concept, or are just randomly guessing. However, this can be a problem because those low scores significantly lower grades. 

The idea is to make it possible to overcome failure. Without the minimum F, a student could dig themselves into a hole that’s mathematically impossible to get out of. But students only concerned with passing have less motivation to do their classwork.

Kimberly Todd, Assessment Department Coordinator, said, “By using an equal interval scale, where each letter grade accounts for 20 percent of the total scale, the grading system is not disproportionately weighted toward failure.”

As shown by the graph above, without the minimum F, most of the scale is a failing grade. With the minimum F, the scale is balanced and each grade has an equal percent of the scale. This is similar to the 4.0 system some schools use in that each grade has equal weight. 

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