Raising Minimum Standards at Fanshawe College: a Response


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Raising Minimum Standards at Fanshawe College: a Response

In his essay “Why Fanshawe College Should Increase the Minimum Passing Grade for All Courses,” Jacob Foster makes the argument that the current minimum passing score of 50 should be raised, significantly. His stance is that the final grade a student receive in a course is reflective of what they have learned, overall, and reveals their readiness for advancing in and eventually graduating from their program of studies. He makes several excellent points, convincing in his position that the minimum passing grade should be raised.

Foster’s first point is that the low passing grade has few advantages for students preparing to enter the professional workforce. If a student is allowed to pass with a 50, have they truly mastered the material that will one day help them get a job and do well with it? This score indicates that they have actually only mastered 50 percent of the material. The student would, in all likelihood, enter into his/her profession severely underprepared. Many employers, as well, seeing transcripts with this performance, would not be impressed, regardless if the student had graduated with a Fanshawe degree.

Another important point Foster makes is that raising the minimum standard actually raises student motivation. It is no secret that students rise to—or sink to—the standards and expectations set for them. If standards are minimal, students will put forth minimal effort. It is human nature to do essentially what is required and not much more. This does not mean, however, that students are unable to meet more challenging expectations. If standards are higher, students will rise to meet them as a natural consequence of cause and effect. As Foster says, “A minimum passing grade of 75%, on the other hand, will encourage students to study more frequently, attend class more regularly, and ask their professors for help more often. In short, a higher grading standard at Fanshawe will ensure that students take their education more seriously” (Foster).

One might argue that raising the minimum passing grade will deter students from choosing Fanshawe and lower admission rates. This is not the case. It may take time for the results to make themselves evident, but eventually Fanshawe students will show the fruits of higher minimum passing scores in their more productive, qualified work in the community as police officers, teachers, nurses, paramedics, and more. More stringent guidelines have never deterred students from pursuing connections with higher learning institutions, as they tend to lend them a certain cache and authority.

Foster’s argument that Fanshawe College should raise its minimum passing score from a 50 percent to 75 percent is a solid one. He addresses such things as the lack of preparation that accompanies a 50 percent passing rate, as well what occurs in the workforce with this lack of preparation. He also discusses the fact that raising standards raises student motivation. Raising academic standards could, in all likelihood, raise Fanshawe’s overall credibility and status in the academic community, and should definitely be done.