what is a 65 anyways?
BY Kianni Johnson, Senior Writer & SLC EDITOR
Almost every student knows that in order to pass a class, test, or even a Regents exam that you have to get higher than a 65. But what exactly does a 65 mean? A debate can be made as to whether or not a passing grade should be higher than a 65 and if it would have a negative impact on students rather than a positive one. Students feel as though they don’t have to put in as much effort to pass considering that the passing grade is just a 65. With every four-year college wanting at least an 80 average, why is the main focus for many students to just pass for the minimum of 65 rather than trying to get higher grades. By setting such a low benchmark, are we telling students to do the minimum because a 65 does not determine college readiness.
Does a 65 prove a student tried or should a passing grade be much higher to show proof of mastery in the subject? Getting a score of 65 is just the tip off the iceberg as opposed to striving to meet college-ready goals. CUNY expects students to score 80 in ELA and Math Regents or face remediation classes in college. For this reason, Hillcrest provides students with the opportunity to retake Regents even if they already passed with a grade of 65. If a student earns a passing grade of a 65 and we still letting them graduate or pass a class, we’re practically saying “you passed and you’re good to go.” However, we should encourage all students to go above and beyond to put their ability to the test in order to show the knowledge they’ve gained in a certain subject.
People look at high school like pre-college, thus preparing you on what to expect if you want to go to college in the future. If one is just able to fly by high school by just meeting passing expectations then what is high school really preparing you for? The excuse students often use by the end of their first semester in college is that high school did not prepare them for this. This is one reason students inevitably drop out -- they have been asked to do the minimum and then struggle when they have to do more. In addition, because a 65 may be a passing grade, it is not a high enough grade to show that the individual has mastered the subject. Most of the time, students eventually take similar subject classes that they took in high school in college and wonder why the subject seems to be much harder.
Media, Arts, and Music school counselor, Ms. Dejean, was in agreement that the passing grade should not be a 65 and that a grade of 70 is more respectable. “A 65 is a relatively low score and doesn't really show mastery. If changes were made to the exam passing grade I think it would initially have a negative impact but eventually everything would adjust itself. Like all changes people adjust and adapt. I think that academic expectations are not really high enough for students overall in this country.”
Another issue is that educators may give grades that do not truly reflect the ability of the student. Many grades are "pity" grades. Grades need to be more uniform and reflect all the components of a class like participation, exams, or attendance. Some students are not good test takers but do well in classwork.
Ms. Dejean makes a clear point about high schools and their expectations. If we really want students to do well we have to encourage students to aim higher rather than handing out pity grades.
Assistant Principal of Pupil Personnel Services Mr. Michalos agrees that a 65 is not indicative of passing a class. But, instead of the passing grade being a 65, he thinks it should be a 90 or higher. “A 65 probably indicates that a student is attending class, but is probably struggling with the subject being taught. This typically is a student who is making an effort but needs additional help. Teachers should work closely with such a student in class if possible and encourage the student to attend tutoring and Saturdays at Hillcrest. An exceptional passing grade, in my opinion, is a grade of 90 or higher. This indicates that the student has mastered the subject.”
So, should a passing grade only be a 65? In my opinion the answer is no. A 65 shows potential but not one fully understanding and mastering the subject. A passing grade should be of a 70 or higher to show some form of knowledge on the subject.