Over 15 years ago, Montgomery County Public Schools implemented the controversial “50% rule.” Many argue that this rule is abused by students and should be eliminated, but in reality, it gives them a chance to breathe and should be supported.

The MCPS grading procedure states that if one makes an attempt to complete the basic requirements of an assignment, then the assignment can not receive less than a 50%. If an attempt has not been made, the teacher is allowed to assign a 0.

Although it is a contentious rule, it allows students to bounce back from a failed assignment as it prevents grades from falling drastically. A single assignment can make or break a grade, so the 50% rule keeps grades in check. 

The rule keeps students confident in their abilities. Oftentimes, the raw scores on highly weighted tests do not represent students holistically. If a student puts the utmost effort and time into a class but performs poorly, failing them undermines and discourages their hard work.

Many believe that the 50% rule causes students to put less effort into assignments, but if one were to take a look in the classroom, for a majority, this is not the case.

Take math class, for example. Imagine studying for a test for a whole week, but failing nonetheless. You then check your grades and see something less than 50%. Not only does it hurt, but it also can worsen a grade to the point of no return. Senior Nate Yetagsu is familiar with this. 

“This year in AP Calc BC, I have experienced the 50% rule because I’ve failed some tests completely,” Yetagsu said. “The 50% rule has allowed me to keep [my grade] at a reachable point. I can still work on it [his grade] and allow it to get to a good point.”

The need for leniency on students has been highlighted throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. During virtual learning, many students lost drive and motivation, making assignments hard to complete. The 50% rule alleviated much of the stress that came with virtual learning and allowed students to keep striving. As we return back to school and adjust, this stress is still prevalent. 

According to an announcement published by MCPS, there was a graduation rate of 86% in the district that year. The class of 2020, whose graduation rate was 89.3%, is proof that the graduation rate has increased, which may be a direct result of the help provided by the 50% rule.

Some feel that this rule is abused and can undermine work ethic, however, when given a zero it can take a students grade to the point of no return.

“I feel that to give a student a zero on an assignment can be so detrimental to a student’s grade due to the 100 point grading system.” said Advanced Placement Literature Teacher Adreinne Kelly. ”If it were in my hands I would change the scale of grading.”