“D” and “F” grades are dropping in some of California’s biggest school districts. When students do not learn the material, pass the final exam, or complete the homework by the end of the semester, they would earn an “incomplete,” which would be converted to at least a “C” later on, the educational equivalent of a “participation trophy”.
“At Least You Tried”.
Oakland Unified, Sacramento City Unified, and San Diego Unified are among the districts that will make this move(!).
The goals are to cause students to “re-engage” in school and to boost their chances of acceptance into the state’s public colleges. It is also designed to “especially” help “Black, Latino and low-income students,”. It would seem that Black or Latino students would get fed up with all of the suggestions that they “need” help.
Historically, it would seem that students will become even less engaged if they know they can avoid getting a terrible grade without doing much work. Also, trying to hide from California public colleges the fact that an applicant couldn’t earn higher than a “D” in the same time allotted to students who were able to do so doesn’t seem to be a very good tactic to close the college-admissions deal.
Perhaps there is a third goal — helping students of color. But are Black and Latino students really helped by what George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations”?
Beyond these three goals, the abolition of grades below “C” is also said to be a move towards “an entirely different learning system, in which students are assessed by what they’ve learned, not how well they perform on tests on a given day or whether they turn in their homework on time.”
But tests are (supposed to be) an objective measure of what students have learned-AND WHAT THEY CAN PERFORM. “D” and “F” grades based on low test scores and chronic failure to do homework on time are strong indicators that students haven’t mastered the subject and haven’t really tried to. Or are not willing to follow certain rules and restrictions-in one area California applauds diversity but at the same time they pass rules that everyone must follow.
Seriously, I do NOT want a pilot who did “adequately” as far as verbal mastery but can’t cut it when the red lights start blinking. Performance (especially under pressure) seems to be “kind of important™”.
Presumably, one of the rules might be that one has to actually show up to work, or to explain why a certain wing configuration will not have the place screaming into an orphanage. I am not interested in using a parachute designed by someone who identifies with an engineer; I want someone who has studied weight-and-balance and can show WHY a certain design can decrease my odds of ending up laminated with the terrain.
As a teacher at a Catholic school in Oakland says:
Ds and Fs play an important role in the classroom. They signal that a student did not learn the material and needs extra help. . .Not reporting Ds and Fs is the equivalent of lying about a student’s progress.
This is the only sensible passage in the article that I could find.
Some advocates of the new system of grading say it is too subjective and “idiosyncratic.” However, any system that does not rely on testing would be more subjective. A system without grades below a “C” would provide idiosyncratically less information about students’ performance than grades have always done.
Traditional grading is perceived as being too objective. Thus, teachers will have less room to manipulate grades to favor students and, more importantly, students of favored races/ethnicities.
According to proponents of the new system, giving an “incomplete” instead of a “D” or “F” will give students more time to master a subject. Says one advocate, “the future is going to require less focus on time and more focus on what we can do and contribute, and the quality of our performance.”
I must have missed the pace of the work world is slowing down. If anything, the pace seems to be picking up-somewhat psychotically.
Perhaps the most revealing line in the article comes at the very end from an assistant principal at a public school in the Oakland area:
“It will be a lot of work, but it’s important we do this [change the grading system] because traditional grades benefit some kids, but they don’t help everyone.”
Grades don’t “help” anyone, anymore than a gas gauge “helps” my car. They are simply an indication of what is.
And if these guys think they can change their mileage by whipping out a sticky note and covering the gas gauge that isn’t telling them what they want to hear I want to know.
BEFORE the trip across Death valley.