Monday, December 16, 2013

A Teacher Talks about Grade Inflation

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

The following comment is a response to “Greenfield: America’s Education System isn’t Broken.”.

• Nickname: "Teach" says:
December 12, 2013 at 11:27 p.m.

I’ve been a teacher for over 28 years. Here’s my core beliefs regarding education today:
1) Schools in Chicago, Detroit, etc. are dictating the national discourse on education, much like the “low-skilled” students take up most of a teacher’s time and a school’s resources.

2) The solution to the above dilemma is to micro-manage teachers and their day-to-day goings on. At my school alone there was nothing short of a revolution. Within one year, we made the following changes: Teachers of the same course must start a chapter on the same day, administer the same quizzes, same tests, graded in the same way, same rubric and weights, same course info sheet. And we are supposed to teach our daily classes in a very formulaic way (draconian in its implementation): warm up, then SHORT lecture, then activities (to “entertain” the students–admin’s words!), then a closure activity. If we deviate from that, we have to defend ourselves. And now we are supposed to present material in the same way. CONFORMITY is the prescription for the hypochondriac patient.

Also, we are under extreme pressure to inflate grades. It is now part of our contract. Ingenious the way they do it: If a kid scores less than 75% on a test, we MUST allow endless re-takes. Also, we teachers are forbidden from giving zeros on work not done. Rather, the lowest we can give is 50%. (It is called, “0 = 50%.) All this is meant to send the message, as well as create definite measures, to inflate grades. Schools all across the nation are seeing grades go up, while colleges and universities bemoan the lower and lower skills with which kids are entering college.

3) I am all for testing. We need some way to measure ourselves and our students. BUT NOT THE WAY IT CURRENTLY IS BEING RUN. Students have no stake in it! Schools get funding based on test results. Teachers jobs on the line, but absolutely no consequences for students. What a sham! This is just a scheme created by the Republicans that the Democrats stole and are now running with. Of course, the wall-streeters, the Bill Gates’s, the Oprah Winfrey’s, the Warren Buffet’s are scheming to ruin the reputation of public schools and teachers so that they can privatize education. After all, there is more money in education than in defense!

And what is more, the test we currently have–the STAR 9–rewards low-level teaching–rote regurgitation and low-skilled step-by-step work. Where is the ingenuity? And where, in today’s curriculum are we teaching kids the love of learning? –and how that discipline gathers information and processes that information, how the practitioner thinks, etc. All this is lost, NOT because the teacher cannot do it BUT BECAUSE OUR HANDS ARE BEING TIED MORE AND MORE EACH YEAR BY ADMIN who get their stuff from the schools of education. I say do away with all schools of education. They are doing more harm than good.

Standardization and conformity lead to mediocrity. We need to go back to the “OLD SCHOOL” way of teaching. Create an environment in which all students can excel, but let the chips fall where they may. A student has a right to fail. Create incentives for families to support their children, even if we have to go with some sort of monetary reward for parents being a part of a child’s education. Stop inculcating kids. Teach both sides of every cultural and historical issue.

Unless there is a radical 360, the trajectory is that public schools will fall into the hands of the profiteers and it will not be about educating to help our country, but, rather, about profit. I think the model is like what community colleges are today. No secure jobs for teachers, so teachers will just have to be a sycophant to the newest, latest trend. I see an awful future for our educational system. (I think my bias is showing through. That is to say, as a teacher myself, I believe teachers are part of the solution even though we are considered part of the problem. That is ludicrous. Our society must regard the educational process in high esteem and accord the same esteem to those providing that education–the teachers.
Anything short of that and we are barking up the wrong tree.)

1 comment:

D J said...

He talks of a "radical 360", and is teaching math?

I was a poor student and math was a stumbling block for me. However, even I know that if one turns 360 degrees, one is facing the same direction as one was before initiating the maneuver.

Go to the rear of the class, "teach".