Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Two and two might not make five, but 20% and 20% now average to 50%

One way for schools to create the perception of equitability in achievement is to make tests progressively easier year-over-year. Last year the smarts averaged 90 and the dulls averaged 50. This year, the test's difficulty has decreased so markedly that the smarts now average a perfect 100 and the dulls a 90. Voila, we've cut the achievement gap to a fourth of its previous size! Pittsburgh is employing a similar stratagem:
Pittsburgh Public Schools officials say they want to give struggling children a chance, but the district is raising eyebrows with a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. ...

While some districts use "F" as a failing grade, the city uses an "E."

"The 'E' is to be recorded no lower than a 50 percent, regardless of the actual percent earned. For example, if the student earns a 20 percent on a class assignment, the grade is recorded as a 50 percent," said the memo from Jerri Lippert, the district's executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional development, and Mary VanHorn, a PFT vice president.
This method is even worse than softening the tests. Instead of lying to the dulls by telling them they're smart, this embraces dullness as being just a couple paces from smartness.

The lettering system is silly:
A student receives an "A" for scores ranging from 100 percent to 90 percent, a "B" for scores ranging from 89 percent to 80 percent, a "C" for scores ranging from 79 percent to 70 percent, a "D" for scores ranging from 69 percent to 60 percent and an "E" for scores ranging from 59 percent to the cutoff, 50 percent.
Seems E should come before F, no?

I remember on rare occasions receiving an "E" for some non-academic measure, like displaying a positive attitude. The E stood for "excellent". I'm glad the grading scale hadn't yet been turned on its head in the nineties!


Anonymous said...

In grade school, we had 'U's (Unsatisfactory) in place of 'F's. I read a few years ago in a local paper that there was a policy recommendation that teachers not use red pens.

In university, they used "NP."

Stopped Clock said...

I'll give them an E for effort.

Peter said...

How about a T for trying?

As for the school administrators, I'd give them an S for stupidity.