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.