March 17, 2008

"For my daughter, I want to make sure that she's understanding the concepts. My daughter is getting straight-A's and I don't think she deserves it."

When grades just aren't enough.... you need more grades:
Under the new system, students will continue to receive a traditional letter grade — A, B, C, D or U (unsatisfactory) — for every subject....

A second section of the report card, known as Academic Performance, will show how students perform compared to the state's academic standards on a scale of 4 (advanced), 3 (proficient), 2 (basic) and 1 (minimal) — the same ratings students receive on annual state tests.

Students will receive three to five grades in this area, depending upon the subject...

The report card's final section, known as Learning Skills, will assess students on issues such as whether class time is used productively, whether the student cooperates with others and whether homework is being completed.

Here, the ratings will include M (mostly), S (sometimes) and R (rarely).

The Learning Skills scores won't be included as teachers compute the letter grade, though, leading some parents to question whether their children will continue to complete their homework.
I started this post with a mocking attitude, but now I'm thinking that maybe this is a good idea. It might be a response to the overemphasis on obediently turning in a lot of assignments. This might be helpful and fair to the kids who learn well without meticulous completion of homework. The other side of that may be what the woman quoted in the post title is talking about: The super-compliant child who isn't really learning very much. (She "said her daughter tends to be popular and well-behaved but sometimes her academic struggles have been overlooked because teachers like her.") But I think it will be hell for the perfectionist kid — or maybe the perfectionist kid will be so overwhelmed by so many different grades that she'll actually get over it.

32 comments:

Kirby Olson said...

In first grade my kid brought home all E's (for excellent). The level below that is S, and he asked me if it meant Sorry.

Middle Class Guy said...

The report card my child's schools uses has grades and various check boxes- class participation, in class assignments, homework, improved, needs improvement, excels, proficient, etc. It also has a comment section for each course. When you look at the grade, then the check boxes and comments, you know exactly why the child received the grade they did and what they have to do to improve.

You also know whether home work is being done and or turned in. It is very comprehensive and easy to understand.

George said...

It's called fear.

Another trend...."You've heard of parents quitting work to care for babies or wayward teens. Now they're quitting -- or considering doing so -- to help their kids get into college."

And a book excerpt from "Fat Envelope Frenzy"

"Felix has been preparing to go to Harvard for sixteen years, and there's no question that he's done everything right. Going into his senior year, he has already received a perfect score of 5 on Advanced Placement tests in Physics, Calculus, American History, European History, Statistics, English Language and Composition, and Biology. He also has straight As in all of his accelerated courses and a 780 in Math, 750 in Critical Reading, and 710 on the Writing sections of the SAT.

Felix knows that it takes more than just good grades and test scores to get into Harvard, and at only sixteen years old, he is already a distinguished pianist, whose talent has taken him across the globe, from Cincinnati to China."

rhhardin said...

whether the student cooperates with others

Does not play well with others, my favorite grade.

Imus had a cute story, here , Aug 24 2002

Crimso said...

One wonders how Felix will take it if he doesn't get into Harvard. Or have they not thought that far ahead?

dick said...

If teachers take the time to fill out the full info on the card I think it would be a huge help to the parents in monitoring how the kid actually is doing.

TMink said...

Ann, I had a similar reaction to the story at first. But it is very different to not know the material and be failing as opposed to knowing the material and making poor grades. The interventions are different as well.

At my daughter's school we get fairly intricate reports. Using those I was able to get on her about not doing the math problem of the week even though she made a B+.

More info helps the parents who care.

Trey

Jeremy said...

"or maybe the perfectionist kid will be so overwhelmed by so many different grades that she'll actually get over it"

Fat chance.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I don't see how this is so radical or different than the way we were graded in elementary school way back in the dark ages..... you know when we had to walk up hill both ways in the snow?

Middle Class Guy's kid's report cards sound just like the ones I received as a child. You got a grade on your performance on tests and classwork, but were also graded on deportment/citizenship or what have you. I rarely got less than A's but often got just barely passing in deportment, probably because I was bored stiff in class. My parents would then need to find out just what I was doing to get bad grades and help me change my errant ways by talking, grounding or spanking as the case warranted.

God, I must have been a pain in the rear to my teachers :-)

Middle Class Guy said...

"Felix has been preparing to go to Harvard for sixteen years, and there's no question that he's done everything right. Going into his senior year...


So, good old Felix has been preparing to go to Harvard since he was two or three years old? As a toddler, he just knew all about Harvard and decided that that was the place he ahd to go to school. I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale and I will throw a draw bridge in Chicago to boot.

It is more like mommy and daddy or mums and pere decided that he was going to Harvard and they are preparing him.

Trooper York said...

The proper way to educate children is to have sexually repressed nuns beat them to within an inch of their life so that they learn to read, multiply, divide and conjugate Latin phrases. But to rebel you can refuse to learn how to spellll.

Take that Mother Assunta!!!!!!!

MadisonMan said...

I think a valid question is: Why is the school district spending good money on this, when it's not clear it's needed, when the schools are in dire need of other money?

I know it's because they need to employ some administrators.

Palladian said...

The smartest and best children will figure out ways to fail even the most baroque grading schemes.

School is not a place to develop intelligence and independence, but a place to have both qualities taken away, a sort of fat camp for losing brilliance.

MadisonMan said...

And I will add -- when this was originally proposed, grades were gone -- you didn't get an A/B/C/D/F -- just a notation whether your student was performing 'at standard'. Well, imagine applying to a school that looks at, among other things, GPA, and all you can say is that you performed 'above standard'.

I appreciate that the district is trying to ensure that an A at, say, Cherokee, is equivalent to an A at Hamilton (they're not now -- As are much more difficult to get at Hamilton), but they've not made the case that this is way to do it.

Palladian said...

"Felix has been preparing to go to Harvard for sixteen years, and there's no question that he's done everything right. Going into his senior year..."

One can only hope Felix will develop a drinking problem or a penchant for giving blow jobs in the restrooms of transit stations. It may be the only way for him to escape the claws of his hideous parents an interesting person.

Middle Class Guy said...

Trooper York said...
The proper way to educate children is to have sexually repressed nuns beat them to within an inch of their life so that they learn to read, multiply, divide and conjugate Latin phrases.

And then send them to a Catholic High School, where there are sexually repressed Brothers or Priests who were all Golden Gloves Champions. They will beat them within an inch of their lives so that they learn math, chemistry, English, Physics… and to read and compose properly. You will get into college or suffer the consequences.

Daryl said...

What a radical concept--giving grades that reflect how well students understand a subject! I wish I had thought of that!

Elliott A said...

If parents interact with the teachers, they know what is happening to their student. If not it doesn't matter. What would really be innovative is a better and fairer manner of evaluation. The grades are not uniform at schools within the systems and also not between systems. Our schools in Va. Beach require a 94 for an A. Some places it's 90 or 92.

College isn't any better. My daughter had a 2nd year bio course where there were 9 A's. There were 200 incredibly bright students. I couldn't have passed her exams without much study and I have had all this stuff out the wazoo. She sees exams her friends have had at other schools and laughs at how easy they are. Then to add insult to injury they give plusses and minuses.

Not to complain, I'm happy where she is and she is too. But the grades have become too central to education at all levels and are arbitrary when compared to other schools. The smart ones learn to game the system in pre college education and may not learn as much as they could, and clearly not learn how to study which hurts them later.

Middle Class Guy said...

Elliott A said...
If parents interact with the teachers, they know what is happening to their student. If not it doesn't matter.


And, contrary to what the educational agenda would like us to believe, all the money in the world is not enough if parents do not interact.

former law student said...

Well, imagine applying to a school that looks at, among other things, GPA, and all you can say is that you performed 'above standard'.

I'm pretty sure my high school would have taken me anyway, seeing as these are grammar school grades we're talking about. I don't believe any grading system would have gotten any of us into St. Grottlesex.

dbq is correct about the right hand side of the report card, where effort, etc., were graded.

Is homework a means to an end, or an end in itself? This grading system would have helped my bone lazy nephew, who couldn't be arsed to turn in his homework assignments, which combined with As in his exams led to final grades of B.

Freeman Hunt said...

I would never have done any homework under this system.

While that would have been nice, I think it would have been overly hard for my perfectionist friends.

It's overkill.

The grades should be based on whether or not the student knows the material. The end. Comments are for the other things.

blake said...

Or, here's a wild idea: Set the bar for what needs to learn and give passes only to those who learn all of it.

Holly P said...

This system seems like it could only help the parent and child. A letter grade says something about how well the student memorized something but not how well they encompassed the word "student." Student means a lot more than doing well- it means being savvy with teachers and with others and how well they work together. It also takes away from some schools being astronomically better in scoring. I think it will make teachers think more about their overall grading because of how they have to compare their students performance compared to the state's academic standards. It is, however, very dependent on the teacher and it is subjective in that manner. Letter grades, for the most part, strictly tell you academic knowledge and performance on tests.

Pogo said...

If grammar, middle and high schools had actually prepared me for real life instead of teaching me that my grade in geometry actually meant something, I would have been better off.

Some discussion of the actual rules of life might have proved useful. Grading is unnecessary for these.

1. You will at some point work for a tyrant. Therfeore, study Stalin, not Hitler.
2. Do not let your genitals tell you what to do. Therefore, study an instrument, learn to paint, or play sports.
3. People will betray you. But do not practice betrayal. Reject it. Study philosophy. Or marriage (see rule 2). Or ask a local businessman to tell you about his job. Same thing.
3. Some of you will be victims of crime; maybe even assault or rape. Learn self defense. Learn to trust your fear. Fight back. Own and learn how to use a weapon.
4. Avoid poverty as much as possible. If you finish high school, learn a trade or go to college, avoid marriage before you are 21, avoid single parenting, and avoid drug and alcohol abuse, you are 99% less likely to be poor.
5. Hard work alone will not lead to success. Study human behavior. Learn office politics. Read Jeffrey Pfeffer. Or just watch The Office.
6. Love where you live and the here and now. While dissatisfaction is key to improving life, constant displeasure with yourself, your mate, your city, and your nation turns you into an asshole. Or a New York Times columnist. (But I repeat myself.) Read Thomas Sowell instead. Stop marching and pick up a broom.


Calculus and social studies are just not as important.

TMink said...

Pogo, I talked about point 4 twice yesterday. We know what causes poverty, we should absolutely teach people to avoid those causes.

One client, a high school dropout who is homeless and jobless, was asking me to do some testing so that she could "get her kids back." When I asked her how she could afford four kids (she was pregnant at the time) she answered "There are government programs."

While I was typing this, she just left a message telling me what diagnosis to use on her state paid insurance claim.

Yep, point #4 is quite important.

Trey

Freeman Hunt said...

I have second thoughts about this system: it could be good for keeping an eye on the school!

If your child comes home with straight-A's and hasn't done any homework, you'd be able to call and ask the school why the classes aren't more challenging. Or maybe you could recognize that your child is gifted and won't be challenged in traditional school, and so bring him home to homeschool.

Pogo said...

telling me what diagnosis to use on her state paid insurance claim

Boy, does that sound familiar.



I would add, in deference to my better (Sippican), number 7:
7. Learn to fix a few things. A running toilet, a dripping faucet, a bawky switch. Learn how to change your oil, install a ceiling fan, paint a wall. Learn how to sew enough to mend something.

But Home Ec and Shop are eshchewed in favor of AP Lit.

Will Conway said...

i talk about this on my blog. it's an anooyance more than anything

knoxwhirled said...

I'm skeptical of any changes that make things more complicated than they already are. Parents who pay attention should have a reasonable idea of what's going on. Stick to basics and stop trying to "re-invent the wheel". The letter system isn't perfect, but then there's no such thing.

I agree with everything Pogo said, but I think a lot of teachers probably don't, and would surely find such common sense lessons politically incorrect.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If your child comes home with straight-A's and hasn't done any homework, you'd be able to call and ask the school why the classes aren't more challenging. Or maybe you could recognize that your child is gifted and won't be challenged in traditional school, and so bring him home to homeschool.

Bingo!!

7. Learn to fix a few things. A running toilet, a dripping faucet, a bawky switch. Learn how to change your oil, install a ceiling fan, paint a wall. Learn how to sew enough to mend something.

But Home Ec and Shop are eshchewed in favor of AP Lit.


Bingo again. Learn to cook, garden, balance your check book, budget your shopping.

Schools teach touchy feelie everyone is a sensitive flower type of things. High self esteem is the rule. Then the young adults (no longer children) get out in the real world and quickly learn that your boss doesn't give a rip about your high self esteem or fragile psyche. He/she wants you to do a good job and get along with your co workers. If you do a great job but are a a-hole at work....you are out (to copy project runway's mantra). If you are a wonderful person but can't connect two dots, show up on time or produce....you're out!

We do our students a huge disservice if we don't teach them these things along with the fundamentals of education...you know...reading, writing, math, history, social studies, geography.

Kev said...

I'm all kinds of LTTP on this one, but I just had to chime in and say...Pogo, that list was brilliant. Well done!

We do our students a huge disservice if we don't teach them these things along with the fundamentals of education...you know...reading, writing, math, history, social studies, geography.

That's true as well, DBQ...but please don't forget the arts! (says the music teacher)

Daryl said...

Freeman Hunt: I would never have done any homework under this system.

Too true!