Fairfax County Virginia introduced a new policy into their educational system. There will be no F’s, only incompletes. Students who would receive an F will be given time to learn the material to make up the grade.
The community college gets many students who feel they should have special consideration to allow them to pass the course. I give my students a syllabus and they know what they need to do to get a good grade. It is fair, because the rules apply to everyone. If I listened to every sob story and gave extra chances to every student who asked, it would stop being fair. It would be grading by who was the biggest whiner.
I am not qualified to weed out the liars. I don’t know if a student missed a class because he was in the hospital, or because he was partying too much the night before. It doesn’t do any good to wave that magic piece of paper at me, because I can’t tell a hospital excuse from something generated on a home computer.
I have a backup for difficulties. Students who turned in 80% of their homework get to substitute their final exam for a low test grade. The homework rule is to motivate the students into turning in their homework and to keep the students from thinking that they can get credit by examination.
A college transcript says more than that the students learned the material. It says that they met the requirements for the course. Too many students want the requirements to be waved for them.
EDITED TO ADD ON NOVEMBER 20th: The school is changing its policy about eliminating F’s due to the public outcry, according to this morning’s Washington Post.