Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When the kid doesn't pass...make passing easier?

STOP!!!!! Read this article before continuing

So your student got a B+ in a rigorous, difficult, challenging environment. This is unacceptable because it is not an A?!?!?! So what's the solution... Fight fight fight and make it easier to get an A. I hope I am not the only one that sees something terribly wrong with this. Please consider the following situations as they relate to this article...

So apparently I have heard that there are too many people failing the PA Driver's License Exam. The solution is that those failing the test got together and fought PennDOT, successfully changing the driver's test requirements to: drive forward 100 ft, put the car in reverse, turn on the windshield wipers, successfully make a right-hand turn. Immediate ramifications are not known.

SAT's have come under fire because so many students are not meeting their college's SAT requirements. Let's get together and make the SAT an easier test. That way, more kids will get higher scores and be qualified to get into the colleges that they want.

The end result from both situations is an "inignoranted"(totally made that word up) population. Okay, so the driver's license one is a little far-fetched, but I'm not sure the SAT example is totally out of line here.

Rigor is what makes the best the best, the not-so best the not-so best, the average the average, and so on....Without rigor we have no means of determining who the best is, we just are certain that everybody can achieve the standard, and nobody has demonstrated greatness. These parents have defined "fairness" as "everyone gets a trophy/everyone gets an A". An A is exactly that, achieved by the best and brightest, some work really hard to arrive there, some do not need to. Not once in this article was it mentioned that parents encouraged their kids to get a little bit more to get that extra 2 percentage points to EARN the A.

It is often confusing about "Who deserves an A", and I think that definition is different between parent, teacher, and student. Parent and student share a similar kid works really hard so they deserve an A. In an odd counterexample, what if they work really hard and are learning the concept(s) the wrong way? Should these hard workers not be accountable for content knowledge? Teacher definition of an A is essentially the students that show high-level mastery of content. If that is debatable (that 89%), work-ethic is examined...the rationale of which is that if the student is a hard worker, they will eventually achieve high-level mastery.

In conclusion, I feel the need to address my grading practice. In my gradebook, pre-homework/project grade, there were about 10 kids that had an A average. This pre-homework/project grade is fairly indicative of your master of content. In terms of the AP Exam an A pre-HW would indicate a 5, B a 4, C a 3, D a 2, and F a 1. This is something not set in stone however, and with some preparation for the AP Exam through use of a review book(Barron's) can increase your exam score by 1 to 2. After homework and project, your grade reflects the amount of work that you have done, and the quality of product you have produced. This is minimally relevant to taking the AP test, but very necessary for your future development (college/career).

My job as an educator is not to give you an A, it is to prepare you for college. You need to be put through a high level of rigor so that when you get to college, you have been exposed to a rigorous courseload. If we are not rigorous in our teaching practice, we are not preparing you for college. Relaxing our standards would indicate that we are sending you to college less prepared.

Happy Snow Day,
Mr. C

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