The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

DISD grade policy change sparks different reactions

A new Dallas Independent School District policy has support from some college professors, but not from many college students.

DISD changed its grading procedures last summer in an attempt to add more structure and aid for some students, officials said.

The changes include allowing students to retake major tests, extending homework deadlines, establishing more teacher-to-parent communication and penalizing students more often with a score of a 50 rather than a zero. The policy change will help students who struggle in school, get discouraged when they fail a test or do poorly on an assignment. The measure is designed to prevent students from dropping out.

Lee Alvoid, SMU senior lecturer for the School of Education and Human Development, said that she supports the new DISD guidelines because a lot of at-risk students need a second chance to do well and boost their self-esteem. The research for using these guidelines has been around for a long time and has proved successful.

Alvoid also said that more projects and assignments will be given throughout the Dallas district so that students will have more opportunities to learn.

Teachers are required to work more with the students to improve their grades and meet with their parents if a zero is given. In other words, the policy will force students to start working harder and realize that success can be attained.

“It’s not all about giving the kid a free ride,” Alvoid said.

Mahwish Qayyum, an SMU senior, said that if her high school implemented these guidelines, she would not have been ready for college. It is important to understand how to meet a deadline and know how it feels to have only one chance to do well on a test. Qayyum also said that problems such as Dallas’ increased high school dropout rate should be remedied. She is not sure what the right answer is.

“You don’t want kids to stop their education, but they won’t be ready for college,” Qayyum said.

America’s Promise Alliance Web site ( shows that Dallas had a graduation rate of 44.4 percent among the 50 biggest cities in America in 2004. America’s Promise Alliance was established in 1997 after the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future vowed to improve children’s education. 

But many SMU students say the new policy will not prepare high school students for the rigorous demands of college.

Ruben Garcia, an SMU senior, said that a lot of professors will not give a student a second chance on a test or extend a deadline. As a result, DISD’s new policy will harm high school students seeking higher education. Garcia said that they will “come to expect” these second chances and will not adjust to the college setting easily.

Dr. David J. Chard, dean of the School of Education and Human Development at SMU, said that DISD has a critical dropout problem and it has to start somewhere. The policy will serve to systematize all schools so that every student has the same opportunities and can do well. In addition, college, especially community college, is not out of the question for these students.

“They’ll be much more prepared than they would be if they drop out in eighth grade,” Chard said.

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