Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thoughts on Grading Schools

This is a guest post by Michael Lewis - Science Teacher

Thoughts on Grading Schools A to F
Michael Lewis BA, MA
Science Teacher

As both a parent and a public school teacher, here are some obervations I have.  

What the “Gov.” says:
1. All students have to attend school basically between ages 5 & 16.
2. All students will take a test each year and the grades on that test will determine how good the school is.
3. Based on items 1 and 2 all schools will be graded A - F, and receive funding based on their grade.
Some potential problem(s):
All children are created equal, but, not all children grow or learn equally.
All children have potential, but, not the same potential in the same areas.
Some kids have great and giving parents.
Some kids have self-centered parents.
Some kids eat healthy.
Some kids are lucky to eat once a day.
Some kids have internet at home.
Some kids don’t even have books at home.
Some kids are “parents” to their little brothers and sisters.
Some kids are “parents” to their parents.
Some kids are motivated intrinsically.
Some kids are motivated Extrinsically.
Some kids have parents who encourage them.
Some kids have parents who don’t particularly care about them.
Some kids are smarter than others.
Some kids wear glasses.
Some kids need glasses but can’t afford them.
Some kids have all the pencils and paper and notebooks they will need.

Some kids can’t afford school supplies because they live in poverty.  I regularly have students tell me they can't afford a new notebook, so, I grab one out of my file cabinet and give it to them.  As do many Teachers.

Some school Administrators spend money on shiny, trendy crap and NOT on current textbooks and class materials.

Some school Administrators hire Teachers that have SERIOUS personal issues BUT the state Dept. of Education “SAYS” they are qualified, and there is a shortage of Teachers.

Some kids wear nice, trendy clothes.
Some kids haven’t had a bath in a week or two.
Some kids are comfortable.
Some kids are cold because they do not have a coat.
Some kids can read and write well.
Some kids can’t even speak English.
Some kids sleep well at night.

Some kids can’t sleep very well because they hear screaming and gunshots throughout the night.

Some kids have parents and family that spend time with them and encourage them and will hold them accountable.

Some kids are left alone because the parents are too busy working trying to make ends meet, but, would much rather spend time with their kids.
At first, it might sound like a great idea: Kids get grades, why not give schools a grade. But, then the question comes up, "Based on what?"

Kids are not machinery. You can't replace them when they break down, or get suspended, or are gone from being sick, or vacation, and miss a weeks worth of notes.  Machines are designed by engineers who know that steel and circuitry can withstand tremendous stress and strain and still function with invariant precision. I have students that get upset because their papers are crooked when they staple them together.

If I have a student on a specific learning plan, I test and grade him differently. HOWEVER, the state dept. of Education uses a STANDARDIZED test for all students in a specific grade. This does not make sense to me. Even the IRS uses different forms for different people in different circumstances.

But, it is those standardized tests that determine the grade they give the school.
Many classroom gradings are: 90 - 100 = A 80 - 89 = B etc.
If a teacher gives a test of, let's say, 20 questions worth 5pts. each and little Billy Bob gets 18 of them correct, his grade would be: 90pts. Which is an "A". But, two days later the Teacher decides to change letter grades to 93 - 100 = A. parents and students would be a little torqued off.
Does anyone like it when politicians pass a law to raise taxes RETROACTIVELY? Nope. Similarly, Teachers and Parents do not like it when the Dept. of Education change the rules and numbers AFTER the tests or evaluations have been graded.
Yes, there IS a better system, but, NO it is not the school grade value of A - F.
So, go ahead and slap that A, B, C, D, or F on the school building because we all know “THAT” will solve the problem.