Monday, January 7, 2013

Failing Students and Giving Them High Self Esteem. And More.

There is a school, remaining anonymous. An inner-city school, with a high percentage of minority, English-learner, and poverty-stricken children. But many pass their classes and get a rather high GPA. Adn they feel competent, proud, informed. But they are being handicapped, abused, lied to. How? Well, first, a bit of a tangent diverging yet connecting to the topic at hand. Grading. Grading is often claimed to be subjective, one person's A is another's C. Thati s part of what was the drive for NCLB, accountability, standards, and the test-till-death culture. To prove how a child is doing and what they know. But of course, grades still exiist within this NCLB culture. Students still get an A, B, C... and now supposedly an A really means whatever an A means, in all grades and states. Thrre is the argument to leiminate grading and just do rubrics or evaluations, or just do assessments and standardized testing. There is an argument that standard grading is wrong. I won't go into each in depth but most of us think of a grading scale and grades as something similar to this: A- 90-100% correct B- 80-89% correct C- 70-79% correct D- 60-69% correct F- anything below 60%, failing. Some schools and colleges go as far as to null and void Ds- Ds are essentially failing grades. However, to connect back in, this certain school and probably others, have developed grading scale based on standardized testing. Some more charts here to explain. When your chil takes their NCLB exams, they get a "grade", being one of these... Advanced Proficient Basic Below Basic Far Below Basic One thinks of these in their mind, often, as A,B,C,D,f. Add in some tricky statistics and psychometrics and bla bla bla, a Proficient score on one exam does not always equal proficient on the next. Meaning if a child gets 83% correct on two exams, they might get a "proficient" grade on one, "advanced" on the the other. But to simplify and shave off some points, rounding and the like, you can get a ballpark figure of scores that well ahem can vary widely but is nice to at least look at and consider. Advanced= 80-100% Proficient=60-79.99% Basic= 40%-59.99% Below Basic= 20%-39.99% Far Below Basic= 0-19.99% correct Remember these figures are approximat and vary. By a lot. A statistical snafu of variance. But let's just go with what we have here. So with NCLB the goal is for 100% of children to be proficient or above in all subjects. 60% or above. That sounds like, "heck we expect all kids to get 60% or above? Geez, how easy!" but again add in psychometrics and trick questions, weighted items, incorrect items that don't get thrown out, bla bla bla, and the high stakes environment of a test, and the fact tests only test a certain way of thinkign and certain bits of information...and 60 is....not bad. Ok. So I keep diverging from my original point. At this school, their grades are.... A= 80-100% B= 60-79.99% C- 40-59.99% D= 20-39.99% F= 0-19.99% So, this school is sending D- students into the workforce, military, college, world. And it isn't like only 3% are D students. In some courses, D students are the majority. And add in a 3.0 student, "honor roll", "accceptable GPA for college" is something like a proficiency of maybe 55%. Not a "3,0" I am used to, hovering around 80%, a B. These students go into the world thinking, hey, I'm smart! I passed high school! I mean, with all Ds but it is passing. I passed! I'm ready for the world! But does the world consider 20% "passing"? If a doctor only does 20% of his work, what will happen? A oonstructino worker? Marine? Bus driver? Waitress? What will happen? THey will not "pass" and be sorely mistaken that they are competent. The world does not accept a 20% job. Yet since they "passed" high school, they have a complex...they have a diploma, they passed high school, they are skilled, competent, intelligent, ready for the world! To add to the problem, only assessments are graded. And, only certain assessments, so maybe 5 things a semsester per clss. So thy can slack off for an entire month, then pass a test at 20%, and slack off again, doing absolutely NOTHING, guess on a test, get 20%...and yep, pass the class. Giving less htat 20% effort and when "performing" doing only 20% and they pass. That means the waitress or doctor or construction worker etc would just sit and surf facebook for 40 hours a week, for four weeks, until they were told they were being evaluated, the big boss is coming in, etc. Then they'd swtich to "work mode" and serve 20% of the customers, operate on 20% of patients, or build all the buildings that day but really only do 20%...nailing only some nails in. Disaster. And, yes there's one more and, they can pass the class with an A or B if they get proficent or above on their NCLB exam. The students twst in a classroom with a teacher that does not teach their grade a teacher that barely knows them. They can easily cheat via their phones or the old fashioned lookie-lou and it likely will get passed by. So if half the class cheats off the smart kid, half the class passes. Even if thye didn't take a sinle prior exam or do a single bit of work. And guess what? This school is NOT alone. It remains anonymous but I alone know of TWO schools in sepearate districts that follow this entire bizarre grading and testing system. Anyone else find this to be maddening, discriminating, unfair, wrong? P.S. please excuse any typos, my laptop is on its last leg and word/typing programs do not work, and blogger is in survival mode without any buttons, functions, spell check, etc. Just thought I'd explain myself.

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