Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slave to the grades



Ever see a teacher talk with students about their grades while holding up their gradebook to say, "look at all these Cs, what else could you possibly deserve? Don't look at me, the numbers are clear on this one lil Johnny, you are clearly nothing more than a C student..."

Too many teachers have become slaves to our gradebooks. Too many have relinquished our professional judgement to a peice of paper with rows and columns. We average our averages and feel compelled to use the data as our primary method of assessing children, and if the average comes out a little off, we secretly feel ashamed if we 'fudge' the grade - or worse yet, we feel obligated to keep the innacurate average.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, you took the words out of my mouth. Why is the gradebook dictating their grades if we disagree with the gradebook. Great post!

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  2. Ever see a teacher talk with students about their grades while holding up their gradebook to say, "look at all these Cs, what else could you possibly deserve?..."

    Actually... no. Not once that I recall in my 25 years as a student or teacher. But I think the chances of it are higher now than ever, since there is so much pressure to be "data-driven."

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  3. I agree completely. A friend recently conveyed a frustrating conversation about grades that she had with a teacher. This teacher was grading a student as below proficient against a certain writing standard. When my friend showed the teacher the student's most recent work as evidence that the student clearly had learned the material and was working according to the standard, the teacher replied, "Yeah, but he didn't know it when I covered it," and refused to change the grade.

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  4. If this kind of situation has eluded your student or teaching career, I would have to say you are the exception rather than the rule.

    Unfortunately, I hear and see this pretty often.

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  5. I long made this argument as a classroom teacher; that many parents and school official saw as my only area of expertise as an "accountant" or "bookkeeper." Questions of "how many points was this worth?", "will I lose points if this is late?", "what was my average score last week?" were all I ever heard. I was never asked "What do you think a good book for me to read next would be?" or "How well do you think my son can write out an argument?"

    Great post (and blog!) - gets to the heart of some of the pressing dilemmas of teachers' professional everyday experiences (sacrificing curricular innovation and imagination for being a point and percentage bean counter).

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