California Schools Drop ‘D’ and ‘F’ Grades in a Shift to ‘Competency-Based’ Learning


Some of the largest school districts in California are dropping “D” and “F” grades, moving towards what they call “competency-based” learning.

Oakland Unified, Sacramento City Unified, Santa Ana, Los Angeles, and other school districts across the state are limiting the use of “D” grades and phasing out “Fs” entirely.

Instead of failing an assignment or exam, students now have the option to retake a test and have additional time to complete an assignment.

Proponents of the move hope it will encourage students to learn and not worry about the fear of a low grade pushing them off the pathway to university.

Nidya Baez, assistant principal at an Oakland Unified high school, said:

Our hope is that students begin to see school as a place of learning, where they can take risks and learn from mistakes, instead of a place of compliance. Right now, we have a system where we give a million points for a million pieces of paper that students turn in, without much attention to what they’re actually learning.

Others also criticized the traditional grading method for its subjectivity and its psychological impact on school-aged children.

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