Tuesday, May 10, 2005
I was always the type that avoided showing my report card to my parents especially from Jr. High on. This was because I was an unmotivated student but we've talked about that before. For years, we have all used the A, B, C, D and F grading scale for an understanding of class performances. Some people have started to believe that we pressure children too much for getting a B instead of an A or even a C instead of a B. Pressure at this early of a formative stage in a child's life could lead to horrible diseases... like acne. Ok, I don't know why people are worried about pressure on students but the people who are have decided to make changes. According to Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal, their city will be adopting a more strict guideline for elementary school grades (A = 100% to 93%, B = 92% to 85%, C = 84% to 77%, D = 76 to 69% and an F = below 68%.) What does that mean for children that are already struggling with our school systems? Stress, confusion and a job at the quickie-mart. As a way to relieve some of that grade stress, some people have decided to change their grading system even more radically. Florida's Palm Beach Post reports that along with the normal Palm Beach County elementary school report cards will be a number 1, 2 or 3 next to their grade. "Under the formula, a 1 means the student is working a year or more below grade level, a 2 indicates the student is working less than a year below grade level, and a 3 means they are working at or above grade level." Many reasons for these changes are blamed on the grade-level expectations placed on teachers by the No Child Left Behind Act. I have even heard reports of changes that have brought about triangles, squares and circles as actual grades (yes, triangles just kind of look like A's, don't they?) Princeton professors are actually required to give a maximum of 35% of all their students an A. I've heard of grading on a curve but what if you really do have 50% of all the students in a class scoring amazingly high equal scores throughout the semester? (Ok, yes... I'd check for cheating, too.) All this makes me wonder, if we are so worried about how we critique and define our students, why do we still give pre-schoolers and kindergarteners report cards that say E for excellent, S for satisfactory and U for unsatisfactory? Why not start the kids off right and get them used to one way of being judged and throughout their academic career? Yes, I'm still confused with how a D could be below satisfactory and not quite failing but least I had something to judge my lack of progress by. When it all comes down to it, aren't we a little too preoccupied with evaluating performance on paper and not enough with the actual time a teacher can spend "teaching"?