GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) - When high school students in Grand Rapids Public Schools fail aclass this fall, they won't get an "F" or an "E" -- they'll get an"H."
"An 'H' is a failing grade," district spokesman John Helmholdttold 24 Hour News 8. But that new failing grade comes with secondchance -- students who get an "H" will be able to re-take the classor the part of it they failed the next semester.
Principals discussed the plans with teachers beforeThanksgiving, administrators said. The district will offer Saturdayschool, after school or online opportunities to retake the failedcourse.
Superintendent Bernard Taylor said he district didn't want togive students a "life failure," because of a failed class at age14, 15 or 16 -- an age at which he says most people don't havetheir lives together.
But if a student fails to take advantage of thoseopportunities or doesn't succeed at them, the result will be aregular failing grade. A student's final transcript would notreflect the "H" grade.
Teachers union president Paul Helder isn't happy with theplan.
"It's not a second chance," Helder told 24 Hour News 8. "It'slike a 22nd chance."
The union president said teachers already provide "anenormous amount of support to students" who are struggling withcoursework. "We're not out to get anybody," he said, "but we dothink that students need to learn some responsibility."
Administrators said the new requirements are a response to newstate rules that set a stringent curriculum and mandate graduationin four years. Students need to be able to re-take failed coursesin order to accomplish that, they said.
"We recognize that we have a higher-than-average dropout rate.Failure cannot be an option for students," Helmholdt said.
It's the latest in a series of changes as the districtimplements its "success only" plan. Helder and some teachers havesaid the plans relax standards.
"All we're doing is a simple communication to the parents,"Helmholdt said, telling those parents that their children havefailed courses but have an opportunity to change that. A letterwill go out to parents explaining the changes .
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