I’m absolutely appalled by the grading policies that have just come out of the Dallas public school system. Upset at high drop-out rates and low scores on standardized tests, Dallas public school officials came up with a plan to “help” students “succeed.” This new grading policy includes not counting homework that doesn’t boost a student’s grade (discounting homework that drags a grade down), allowing all students who fail or miss major tests to retake them for a better grade within ten days, and allowing students who are absent for any reason to turn in work with no lateness penalty and to take tests they’ve missed, etc., again with no penalty.
Now, if we were to assume that all k-12 students are hard workers, eager to learn, and doing their very best, this policy may be of some use; however, that’s a huge assumption to make and one that is negated each day in classrooms across America. Besides, we have a means of ensuring that those students who are hard workers, who are eager to learn, and who do do their very best are given the assistance they need to succeed . . . they’re called teachers. Teachers who make these sorts of allowances and extend these courtesies to students on a daily basis; most teachers will allow a student who has been ill or suffered a loss, etc. to make up a test and to hand in homework late. Most teachers will work with students who let them know what’s going on, who make arrangements for make up exams or extra credit, even for students who know they have a family ski vacation planned. Most teachers are more than willing to bend over backward to accommodate a student who they know to be a hard worker, but to have make up exams because you failed a test? Or decided to skip class that day? How is this fair to the student who does study? Who does attend class and do assignments on time? Why bother? They can be shiftless and lazy if they like, the reward is identical.
Enforcing this policy in Dallas schools makes that much extra work for the teachers, who now have to keep up with multiple exams, papers, assignments, and what all coming in at all times and for no reason (other than this policy). How can this prepare students for the work force (let’s face it, these aren’t the kids Dallas is preparing for college; it just wants to shove kids through, at the teachers’ and “good” kids’ expense, to lower their drop out rate)? Do a lot of jobs have “do overs”? Couldn’t make the meeting this morning, Mr. Smith, am hoping to make it up in the next ten days. Couldn’t get that report done for the meeting, Ms. Jones, but I’ll have it by the end of the month, so that’s good, right? Better late than good, as they say at my old high school.
It’s admirable that Dallas wants to lower its drop-out rate, but this policy is a disaster for everyone; they’d be better off simply passing without another thought the kids who should fail . . . . like they do at the college level. That way, at least, teachers would be free to spend time and energy on the students who are there to learn, who wish to succeed, and who are working hard to make something of their lives.
What the school board says: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/081608dnmetdisdgrading.4627fe2.html
What the teachers say: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/081508dnmetdisdgrades.48e6cc22.html
What I’ve said in a past post about this dumbing down of our education system: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-8aiUPJs3brwovyRm.EAqej.KyME-?cq=1&p=98