The days of “no pass, no play” are no more. These days, some schools dump “D” grades to allow high school athletes to play sports. One Texas school district says they signed onto this brave new world where “D” is the new “C”, to level the playing field.
The Round Rock Independent School District announced this week they will alter the way letter grades are reported, meaning the letter grade “D” is gone. It is a change that will go into effect for all high school students this academic year. District officials say the new grading – A, B, C, and F – is being done to benefit athletes. They say this will make students more competitive with their peers, especially those student athletes vying for college scholarships.
“We want to give our students every competitive advantage possible for entering college,” said Dr. Daniel Presley, Round Rock ISD’s senior chief of school and innovation. “By tweaking our transcript process, we are not changing how we evaluate or reward performance, we are matching a common practice of schools and districts around the country.”
A grade of 70-74 will no longer be graded as a “D” but as the letter “C.” In fact, “C” will now encompass the entire numerical range of grades from 70-79. However, any grade below 70 still remains an “F.” The school district insists a student’s grade point average (GPA) and class rank will still be calculated the same. Round Rock ISD says the reason behind the grade change is the collegiate governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), which determines GPA through a letter grade based method can put students at a disadvantage.
The school district maintains the absence of the grade “D” will help student-athletes and match a “common practice” of schools of dropping “D” grades in districts around the country. Other larger central Texas school districts like Austin and Lake Travis ISDs dumped “D” grading from student transcripts while Pflugerville and Leander ISDs continue to use a “D” grading scale, according to Austin’s NBC affiliate KXAN.
Currently, Round Rock ISD grades students:
A – 90 – 100
B – 80 – 89
C – 75 – 79
D – 70 – 74
F – Below 70
How the district will grade students on the new scale:
A – 90 – 100
B – 80 – 89
C – 70 – 79
F – Below 70
In 1984, Texas adopted a “no pass, no play” rule that prohibited students from competing in school-sponsored events for six weeks if, among other things, they did not pass all classes, according to the Houston Chronicle. The law softened in 1995, slashing suspension time to three weeks and districts were given latitude to exempt many honors and advanced-placement classes from the rules.
On their Facebook page, Round Round ISD touted their new grading system. A commenter posted: “So, ‘everyone’s a winner’ now?” In response, the school district asserted since a student’s GPA and class rank will still be “calculated by percentage grades,” this flat earth approach is “not diluting our standards for students.”
Although school district spokesman Corey Ryan claims the new way of grading is not about lowering expectations but instead, leveling the playing field, Round Rock ISD alumnus A.J. Abrams is not a fan of the new system. Abrams went onto play college basketball at the University of Texas. He told KXAN: “You’re kind of setting people up for failure.”
Abrams added: “If you get a D and you can’t play that’s your own fault.”
The Round Rock ISD graduate said if students barely pass in high school, the chances of them succeeding at the college level by juggling sports and academics is slim. Abrams had a better idea: “Go get an A,” he said. “The same amount of work that you put in for your sport, do the same thing with the classroom and you’ll be so much better off.”
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