• Grading Police Doesn’t Reflect Real Life

    by Theresa Reichman

    As most first-time homeowners do, my husband and I have had an “Oh shit” moment. However, unlike most first-time homeowners, this epiphany of doom came nearly a year after purchasing our charming two bedroom condo.

    It was brought to our attention that while an acrimonious debate on teacher’s salary unfurled across the country, there was also something tumultuous brewing in our very own new school district.

    Standard Based Grading, baby. It doesn’t sound very ominous, now does it? A progressive form of grading? Cheers to that! Right? Wrong.

    After getting schooled in this chic new way to do education by a senior in our school district (and of course, backing up what she said with a little research of my own), I was aghast.

    For those unfamiliar with Standard Based Grading, it goes a little something like this: There are only four grades; one, two, three and four. Four is now the Holy Grail of grades — the Ace. Homework is not used as a credit toward your grade, it is merely used to practice independently and assure that the student has thorough comprehension of the materials. Students are permitted to take and retake tests if they are dissatisfied with their original grade. If students do not complete a project on time, they can turn it in at a later date with no penalty on their score.

    While the one through four grading scale seems unnecessary to me, I don’t have any significant problem with it. It makes reading grades more cut and dried for students (not that I think an A-E scale is too taxing on blossoming young minds).

    Even the new theory behind homework doesn’t pique me. After all, pupils may complete their homework and not understand a single bit of it, or they may have a firm grasp on the material and not turn in a solitary piece of homework.

    No, where I get exasperated begins with the retaking of tests. I’ve spoken with a number of educators and students who disagree with me on this matter, but still: I don’t understand the logic behind this new policy.

    We should be teaching our children to come prepared for a test. If they opt not to study, then so be it. Their grade should reflect that. The current goal is to grade based solely on their achievement of target goals, but it leaves no room for what we ultimately want to instill in our youth: a sense of responsibility.

    And yes, I recognize that not all students excel at test-taking. I realize that some may need to be catered to a bit. But I would much rather see a teacher offer the student a choice (like choosing between taking a test or completing a project) and accept the grade that they receive.

    In life, if someone causes a car accident, they can’t have a do-over. They live with the consequences and they learn. Next time, don’t run red lights. Don’t blow through stop signs. Next time, STUDY!

    But the real cherry on top is the new policy for late assignments. Who needs repercussions, anyway? I mean, adults don’t have penalties to deal with. It’s not like if you’re late with your mortgage payment your lender forecloses your home and throws your ass out on the street. Oh. Wait…


    Are you hearing this?! We are bankrupting our students of self-discipline and encumbering them with apathy.

    As a parent of two children who will soon be in the school district, I recognize my power. Just because the teachers don’t dole out a punishment for late assignments doesn’t mean that I won’t. There is an abundance of proactive things that I can do for my child’s education, even if the school board scoffs and assures me that it’s supererogatory.

    I am all for progressivism. But the school districts practicing Standard Based Grading need to also have an “Oh shit!” epiphany, too. You haven’t aced this system. You haven’t even four-ed it.

      • David

      • March 13, 2011 at 8:53 am
      • Reply

      “You haven’t aced this system. You haven’t even four-ed it.”

      Sharp close, and not in a cheesy or cliche was, but a rhetorical kicker.

      This was a nuanced and fair analysis of a grading system that is in serious need of some re-alignment.

    • Why oh why should our kids be prepared or relish responsibility or accountability? Our country doesn’t value it anymore. People cheat all the time now (check out google for this wonderful news) Do they apologize or issue an I’m sorry, NOT. Okay maybe a few do and maybe a few do the right thing but I am so angry for all the trophies that are handed out for no good reason (but ego appeasement). I am thankful that I had standards and fought these issues for so many years, I am, now at 62, too tired for this nonsense. Just look to our ranking in just about anything and we are almost dead last if not last. I remember so many movements of “feel good” times that I now want “feel bad” times for not trying your best, for not caring and for not giving a shit about other people. I want banners to read at schools, if the parents aren’t involved the kids aren’t taught and I mean just that. Come to school show up and be counted. Okay, if you work 3 jobs, 24 hours a day, take time to write a note to your kid’s teacher to let her know you are a caring, loving parent and will do something at your break during the day. Everyone has a few minutes to do something. Accountability should be the new buzzword instead of what “i” something is coming out. As you can see your writing always stimulates me, Theresa. You are right. Parents need to set their own standards even if the kids say “but the school says” or little “dumb fuck Mikey’s parents are not doing it”-this is your children’s chance to stand up and be counted instead of becoming one of the lazy fucks who come up with these so called brilliant ideas for what is best for all of us.

    • I am on a roll as I read through all these articles on this website.

    • Theresa, I’m going to email this to my son and sister in law. like you, they teach.

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