The father of a student has threatened to file legal action against my colleague and me for giving her a failing grade in our class. The allegation is that we engaged in “improper, unfair or arbitrary” grading.
The syllabus for the class runs 13 pages, with numerous tutorials online and four adjuncts to help any student. More than 98 percent of the students over the past four years have passed the course on the first time around. Only two students out of nearly 400 have failed the course twice. This student has failed it twice. In fact, the student can try one more time to pass the course.
There was a suggestion that we waive the requirement for the class for this student so that the individual could graduate. My colleague and I declined that option. If a student cannot pass the capstone course for a degree, should academics simply give someone a pass because he or she cannot do it? I don’t think so.
There has been a lot of talk about grade inflation. What we are talking about here is providing a degree to someone who has not mastered the skills necessary to obtain the degree.
A college degree needs to mean something. The student needs to have mastered critical elements of a program. If he or she has not, then I believe that the student should not get the degree. Such an action cheapens the academic program.
Although the New York Times is not my favorite publication, it provides some insight about what happens on college campuses today. See http://nyti.ms/lZ3s2Z
My colleague and I stand for excellence in education. Our class is difficult, but the people who make it through constantly tell us how important the experience was and how it shaped their lives.
In academia there is a term “helicopter parents,” which means that parents will come in to try to help their kids when they face academic or social problems. The notion that a parent plans to file a lawsuit against us for failing his kid is a bit much. I will file more as the legal process continues.