Kids Can't Fail, Even If They Try

schoolMy kids brought home their final report cards today. I just sat down and reviewed them. They both passed.

Of course, everyone passes today. They don't fail kids any more. A kid can do his very best to fail and still get promoted to the next grade. At some point between the time I was in primary school and today, they did away with failing.

I have vivid memories of the handful of kids who had to repeat the third grade. One year they were in our class, the next year they were a grade below us. Sometimes, kids failed and had to repeat a grade.

But not any more.

Share this entry

Comments (25 - click here to join in!)


I know what you mean. I remember once talking to a 10-year-old cousin who didn't know the months of the year and days of the week.

"What comes after February," he asks.

"March," I tell him.

"That means my birthday's soon! January...February...March...Tuesday...June...August...January..."

"I don't think you've got it quite right," I break in.

"Ok...I'll start again. March...January...Sunday..."

"What grade are you in again?"




And off he goes to focus on something else while I try not to put my head through a window.

June 28, 2010 @ 7:40 PM


I forgot to ask. Your kids didn't try to fail, did they?

June 28, 2010 @ 7:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I'll never know!

June 28, 2010 @ 7:44 PM


Elementary school K-Gr8 is different than high school wereby kids do fail in high school & have to repeat courses especially in grades 11-12.

Students in K-Gr.8 is a "babysit" & just move them on & let others deal with situation later.Many kids repeat Gr. 12 as can't enroll in post secondary due to marks & all starts at Elementary grade level.

June 28, 2010 @ 8:41 PM


Which is exactly why we need to get back to holding kids back early and making sure they have the skills they need to survive in high school and beyond. It scares the hell out of me that the generation coming up is going to have to take care of me when I get old.

June 28, 2010 @ 9:46 PM

Frank the Tank

Grade failing became abolished right around the time that Ontario's common sense revolution started.

Money became tight and holding a child back costs dollars and cents. Then came standardized testing which has bastardized the education system, but that's for another time.

Then came a generational shift in a parents approach to kids and also how kids behave. As has been documented the current generation and the one coming up are the most narcissistic on record. Why? It's because every parent tells their kid they can be president and when a teacher shows that their kid might only be able to pick up garbage parents freak out. It becomes a fight to give a child a report card that truly reflects their ability. Imagine parents demanding their child's C be turned into a B in Grade 1. If anyone thinks it doesn’t happen they are oblivious. In a society where teachers are no longer allowed to use red pen because its too negative it becomes a state of pussification of this generation.

I could go on for hours, because it then moves to Principals not allowing children to fail because a fail becomes a reflection of the school and so on and so forth. Then all of a sudden failure rate sky rockets in Grade 9.… Gee I wonder why

June 28, 2010 @ 10:24 PM


When I was in grade 7, I noticed that our grade structure went from A through to E. A through D were passing grades (obviously, D was barely passing, but I digress) and E was failing.

So, I asked my teacher why it wasn't an "F" - and he said that the Scarborough Board of Education suggested that getting an "F" would be considered psychological harming, so an "E" was a nicer way of saying that YOU SUCK or whatever.


For the record, I was in grade 7 in 1988.

June 28, 2010 @ 11:06 PM

jason |

...and that's why kids in public school can't:

pay attention
tell time
get a job
understand basic concepts

June 29, 2010 @ 4:23 PM


Frank and Diz have it right on.

Kids today are a product of parents who are right 'round the bend.

The entire system is chiefly concerned with the "self-esteem" of the child.

Good teachers are tiring of bashing their heads against the wall and eventually even the best of the bunch become "bad" teachers.

It's a cycle of horror.

June 29, 2010 @ 4:23 PM

Sky Captain

@Steve, Frank, Diz, TCN: I suggest that you learn about education issues first before you open your mouths, please.

@Mike: Please don't encourage them to talk about education anymore..

July 1, 2010 @ 2:47 PM


I would love for someone to take the growing poverty level and link it to the time that kids stopped failing. A kid who can't read= an adult who can't get a job and so the cycle begins. Why do we have so many on welfare...lack of education and litteracy so the reports tell us. No kidding?!!? Isn't it time that School Boards worked on Reading and Writing and not "self-esteem" and "ability to negotiate" My children's last report card didn't even have marks just lovely things telling me that they needed work on independant study or could do better at "peer associations" ummm yeah 0.o

February 1, 2011 @ 3:20 PM


I would love for someone to take the growing poverty level and link it to the time that kids stopped failing. A kid who can't read= an adult who can't get a job and so the cycle begins. Why do we have so many on welfare...lack of education and litteracy so the reports tell us. No kidding?!!? Isn't it time that School Boards worked on Reading and Writing and not "self-esteem" and "ability to negotiate" My children's last report card didn't even have marks just lovely things telling me that they needed work on independant study or could do better at "peer associations" ummm yeah 0.o

February 1, 2011 @ 3:20 PM


My cousin is in grade 7. She does not know how to read. Just goes to show on how much our education system has fallen. How is it even possible for someone to go through 6 years of school and not know how to read.

January 19, 2012 @ 1:31 AM


Ya well my g/f is a secondary school teacher and she said the kids coming into the secondary system are not ready at all. Kids in the academic level are usually workable but really lazy. They cannot be penalized for attendance, handling in assignments later than the due date or a few other critical areas. She's teaching applied level now and every kid has adhd, add, ptsd, odd or an isp. Some can't read. One look at the oss standards testing published online revealed several schools loosin the battle. Poor areas definitely are suffering more but others have trouble too. Immigrant children seem to be immune from the problem I think it starts at home with a lack of discipline. School cannot control them after that and parents pressure the schools to push through.

December 25, 2013 @ 6:28 PM


Now everyone who is commenting here has the perspective as an adult but in a 15 year old perspective, (which is me) thinks that elementary school is a little training ground but if u start failing kids in boot camp, how are they going to keep their motivation and not feel depressed? The number one reason for teen depression is cause of school because when you do bad in school that is saying you will have a bad future so failing kids in grade 3 what's that telling them? that they won't amount to anything? is that really what you guys want going through your kids mind not to even mention that now hes stuck till grade 12 with different kids in his class. Elementry school isint meant to test your kids IQ its meant for him to adapt to the social skills and some work ethic that will be needed for grade 7, its suppose to still be a major PARENTING factors which decides if your kids do bad or good on there report card.
sorry just had to send a message from the perspective of a teen.

February 24, 2015 @ 9:02 AM


motoivation depression failing grade 3 means a child wont amount to anything listen to what your saying you would rather have a child who wont try or doesnt apply him or herself they know they can get by by doing nothing and they are teens they will play it out if you let them owe poor teens such a deppressing time bullshit i was held back i failed did it affect my willingness to do anything the teachers did this to me know i cant get a job no one wants to hire me because i couldnt handel grade 11 the teachers just kept passing me to the next grade until grade 11 and then it was impossible for me to make it passt that grade as i didnt know what i was doing so after failing 3 time i gave up dropped out and now im 34 i got no job i dont know how im eating tommorrow the school system did this to my my life sucks ass and it all comes back to the school system giving up on me accademicly

June 23, 2015 @ 12:22 PM


I think parents do play a part in it. My mother (with me and my sisters before this whole free pass and with my younger brothers that are teenagers now) would read to us and sit down with us and help us with school work and motivate us and encourage us to do our best. My best friend failed in grade 7 because she wasn't ready to move forward and she was fine with that. She learnt what she needed and then kept going and graduated a year behind me. My mom never once blamed a teacher for a grade because it was my responsibility to make sure I did my homework and got my assignments in on time. My mom provided a lot of attention to me and my siblings growing up that helped us. I know when I have kids going through school that I plan on doing the same thing and ensuring they understand what is expected of them and be supportive.

@Jess, you sound like a teenage that is like everyone else now. The world owes you everything. Work hard and you can accomplish things. Expecting things to be handed to you will lead to trouble within the next three years.

August 19, 2015 @ 10:09 PM


I grew up in the days when failing was acceptable. One of my siblings was held back for grade 3 because she had no reading comprehension, she could read she just didn't understand what she was reading and struggled with new words because she was exclusively taught the whole reading approach. At first she was upset but then she made a new class full of friends and got to keep her old friends at the same time she got the extra help she needed and learned the value of applying ones self. If you don't try your best you cannot succeed, but if you try your best and don't succeed maybe you need extra help and to be held back. I work with a youth group that is for children 12-18 one of my kids is 13 and cant spell simple words, he also had issues with reading i'm not sure if he was ever taught how. I feel that this is in large due to the face that he can't fail. He is now going to struggle for the rest of his life because he cant read. This may have been prevented by him failing a grade and getting the extra help he needed.

February 21, 2016 @ 8:08 PM


okay, so o read this whole thing over, but i might fail grade 7 right now, my mom and teacher want me to get a 3 and 4 or the new versions of A and B on my homework that i had to "re do" and it's due next week, but if i get 1(D)s or 2(C)s then i'll have to re do grade 7 because of math, when in my other classes i'm getting between 2(C)s and 4+(A+)s, and i was told personally by my mom and teacher that i could fail if they think it wasn't good, but my teacher, i sit in class confused, i ask her and i get a half decent answer, i sit and figure it out, looking like i sit there, then once i ask for after school help, i'm told i did nothing so i sit in an empty room for and hour and a half working, and i'm just worried, i don't want to fail

June 14, 2016 @ 2:38 PM


Can you fail grade 8

June 18, 2016 @ 11:11 PM


A good teacher will have many strageties in getting kids to do work instead of saying they didn't do well. My daughter started grade 2 and the second day the children were told when cleanup(yes her school makes the kids sweep floors, and keep the classroom tidy) and in class work is done they get rewards. She also has a play area but it's only to motivate them to do work than they can play. The teacher had other ideas as well to improve students academics. All schools run different, but in my daughter's school everyone works together to get things done.

September 10, 2016 @ 5:16 PM


Jess I understand how you can feel, and you do have a point, school is not supposed to make you feel stupid by failing you.
But it is a teacher's and a school's responsibility to prepare you for life, and Jess, life is extremely hard. Its tough to find a job, to show up punctual every day, to make friends at work, to do well at work and to stand up with something innovative that earns you promotions. Just as a good parent is more than a good friend, because they have expectations on you and good parenting means sometimes being tough on you, good teaching means sometimes telling students the way they are doing things is just not going to cut it.
We don't want to send you into a harsh world not knowing how to survive. Because we care for you, we are not going to lie go you and tell you its OK to not be able to do basic challenges. We will tell you the truth, that its not OK, fail you, and then work WITH YOU until you get it right, no matter how many times it takes.
Then , when the day comes that you are on your own and you fail at anything, you will remember the process, pick yourself up and do it again until you succeed.

September 15, 2016 @ 7:18 AM


Hi i was St. John's and i was in grade 8 but I failed math and i came to toronto like a week ago would i still be able to pass and go to grade 9 i lived two years and a half in turkey and i can speak 3 languages Arabic English turkish and i can read and write in English and arabic but i can't read and write in turkish so would i be able to go to grade 9 or i'm gonna have to redo grade 8 and i lived in St. John's for one year and half but when i was in grade 7 school was almost done and i didn't do any tests or even the exams cuz I didn't know how to speak or understand English but I learned English really fast and now i can understand and read and write in English.

August 16, 2017 @ 3:25 AM


School does not prepare you for the real world it does not teach you how to pay taxes and stuff like that. I'm only in 7th grade and I know no matter how bad my grade is I still pass because the school system does not want your children to feel like failures. School is living hell. #IHATESCHOOL

June 12, 2019 @ 4:55 PM

Leave a comment

Only 25 comments? C'mon, we can do better... Leave a comment above and let's keep this conversation going!

« O Canada? Peaceful G20 Protest at Queen and Spadina FAN 590 Suggestion: Turn to Gold »