January 30, 2008

I'd have to ask??

If I taught in Dallas I would. That is, to give a kid less than 50%:

Dallas teacher representatives asked trustees Thursday to reconsider a policy that prevents teachers from giving students who are failing any grade lower than a 50.

Currently, students can receive a grade no lower than 50 for any marking period, even if they do no work. District officials said that's a long-standing policy meant to give students who bomb their work early in the semester a chance to earn a passing grade if they clean up their acts.

If students received a grade of zero for the first six-week grading period, for example, they would be unable to pass the class even if they produced near-perfect work in the rest of the course. Administrators fear kids would realize that and give up entirely.

That one sentence unfortunately demonstrates how clueless some administrators really are. I mean, consider: In order to get a grade of zero for an entire marking period, you'd have to do 100% NOTHING. Absolutely zilch. And administrators think that's... OK?? You do ZIP and you still get a 50%?? But these wise sage-like administrators think some don't "fear" that kids know precisely what they're doing -- meaning, they'll do that 100% nothing, still get a 50% for half the year, then kick it in gear a bit towards the end of the year to "salvage" a passing grade? That's just how it is, trust me. And all the while they should've gotten exactly what they deserved: A big fat "F."

"The only reason this policy exists is to give kids a chance to recover from a short-term failure," district curriculum chief Denise Collier said. "A student who gets a zero or a 20 has absolutely no hope of passing."

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa agreed.

Even when students receive 50s, "they still have to work double-time to pass," he said. "Are we interested in seeing kids fail or seeing them be successful?"

Again, I have little to no sympathy for a kid who gets a zero -- because it means he/she has done zero. A kid who gets a 20% also deserves little sympathy because he/she has done close to zero. Just take a gander at Hinojosa's statement above. Talk about your ridiculous "logic"! What teacher wants to see a kid fail? But teachers also desire to expose their students to real world consequences. Like, doing nothing will result in nothing -- you get fired from your job, you get your car repossessed, etc.

I know of no teacher that will fail a student that has worked his/her tail off, but still may come up a bit "short" grade-wise. This is because teachers want to show that hard work does have benefits, even if the material was difficult for a kid. Using the job analogy, I'd say it'd be like someone working extremely hard at one dept. in a co., but ultimately it's not serving the company's needs in the whole scheme of things. But since the employee is a very hard worker, they just move him to a different dept. where his/her abilities are better suited. It's not a perfect analogy, mind you, and some will certainly disagree. But I've kids over my many years of teaching that worked their butts off, came for extra help all the time, and still may have ended up "just short" of a passing grade. But I didn't mark that "F" on the report sheet.

At any rate, thankfully, the Dallas teachers union (the AFT in this case) wants this nonsene halted:

But teacher groups see a double standard. At a time when the district will begin paying bonuses to teachers based on student achievement, the policy requires that students be given points for doing inadequate work.

"To assign actual grades earned by students, instead of grades of not less than 50 percent, is a vital part of raising the achievement bar," Alliance-AFT vice president Maureen Peters said. "An education is not something a child is given. An education is something the child must work for and earn."

Whoa, there, Ms. Peters! You're making way too much sense! We can't have a plethora of that in education now, can we? I mean, sheesh -- a child has to work for an education? In this day and age? Remarkable!

"What are we asking the board to do?" Ms. Peters said. "Hold students accountable for their grades. Raise the bar. Increase student rigor. Allow teachers to assign students the grades they legitimately earned. Stop supporting grade inflation."

But it's [sadly] amazing that the board is actually split on this matter. For instance, Board President Jack Lowe says "he supported the minimum grade of 50 because, ultimately, the most important thing is whether students learned the material, not what their grade was in the first six weeks of class." Nice. Go back to what I said about the kids being all too aware of this 50% policy. Consider how that affects classroom environment: Kids know they can do literally squat for half a year and still pass the class. If they're doing squat, what are they doing then? You got it: MISBEHAVING. DISRUPTING CLASS. RUINING IT FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO LEARN.

If Lowe is so concerned about the material actually being learned, maybe he could suggest that the course final exam figure in more prominently in a kid's final overall grade.

More idiotic is "former teacher" Nancy Bingham who also sits on the board:

Trustee Nancy Bingham, a former teacher in Mesquite whose district had the same policy, said she doesn't want teachers to be able to give grades lower than 50.

"You fail with a 50 just as much as with a 25," Mrs. Bingham said.

Ms. Bingham is a living example of why teachers aren't very highly regarded today. Too many of them are idiots. I mean, how does a 25% equal a 50% -- especially when computing a kid's overall final average? Sure, they're both "Fs" using the letter grade format, but that 25% difference can sure come into play when that final average is figured.

Wow, I sure must be old fashioned -- I'd rather have a 25% that I earned than be given a 50% for doing nothing.

Posted by Hube at January 30, 2008 05:51 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hey, it is district policy where I teach -- and I hate it.

Indeed, it is a pretty common policy from what I hear.

And to be honest, it is pointless -- since generally kids who benefit don't give a crap anyway.

And what is worse is the (occasional) kid who does the math and figures out that his 82 the first six weeks and 80 the second six weeks means that he cannot fail the semester even if he does nothing at all the third six wek marking period.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at January 30, 2008 08:38 PM

I am a child of the '60's...and am appalled at what passes for "education" today. "50" was an embarrassment, not an achievement! In a society that desperately needs highly trained individuals...we continually lower the bar. This may be a reflection of teacher's colleges that spend most of their time teaching how to teach and not what to teach.

Posted by: Jabberwock at January 30, 2008 09:50 PM

Have you ever been in a situation where you had a student in your class who had no hope of passing the course?

Posted by: Clix at February 6, 2008 12:38 PM

A "0" artificially deflates averages. The district is correct in its action, albeit not in its rationale.

Posted by: Michael at February 6, 2008 01:16 PM

A "0" artificially deflates averages. The district is correct in its action, albeit not in its rationale.

How does it "artificially" deflate averages? Please explain. What is the "correct" district rationale? Why should a kid get anything BUT a zero for doing absolutely NOTHING?

Maybe our opinions come from the populations we teach. IOW, teachers should be able to determine their own grading policy based on their students.

Posted by: Hube at February 6, 2008 03:20 PM

Have you ever been in a situation where you had a student in your class who had no hope of passing the course?

Clix: Sure. Who hasn't? But remember, I wrote this: I know of no teacher that will fail a student that has worked his/her tail off, but still may come up a bit "short" grade-wise. That includes me. And a "zero" is a lot different from merely "passing" or "failing." A "zero" means NO -- absolutely NO -- work done/effort put forth.

But what's your real point? That the 50% policy is there to somehow "give hope"? What about misusing that very policy by doing squat for most of the year, then "kicking it in" towards the end to get that "D"?

Posted by: Hube at February 6, 2008 03:23 PM

I thought this comic strip,/a> was appropriate for this topic.

Posted by: Paul Smith at February 8, 2008 09:08 AM

When I taught high school mathematics twenty years ago in Texas, a grade of 60 allowed students to "pass" the class, and move on the following year to the next class.

For many Americans a grade of 70 means a passing grade.

If a student gets a 50 and then another 50 for the first two of four grading periods, after doing absolutely no work, they need to EARN only two grades of 70 in the last two grading periods to pass. 50,50,70,70 = pass, even if the first two grades were false grades, actually deserving of zeroes.

In a high school math course, it would be nearly impossible to even gain the 70s after two periods of no work at all. However, that would not be the case for other kinds of classes where the work does not build on itself each week.

If the passing grade of 60 is still in effect, this can be seen to be as ridiculous as it can be.

Work effort: 0, 0, 70, 70 = pass. Strange, eh?

Posted by: Mike Devx at February 16, 2008 12:09 PM