Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tinkering with the grading system

You remember when you were in school? You remember the grading system? An "A" was the best grade you could get, and an "F" was the lowest you could get. ABC News has a story about how some are tinkering with the grading system, and ditching the "F" in the grading system:

For more students nationwide, the grading alphabet ends at "D," as school districts eliminate policies that allow children to be given failing marks.

At public schools in Grand Rapids, Mich., high school students will no longer receive "F"s but instead will earn the letter "H" when their work falls woefully short.

Superintendent Bernard Taylor told ABCNews.com that the "H" stands for "held," and is a system designed to give students a second chance on work that was not up to par.

"I never see anyone doing anything but punishing kids," said Taylor. "If the choice is between letting kids fail and giving them another opportunity to succeed, I'm going to err on the side of opportunity."

They say that if the improvements aren't made, the kids are still going to get a failing grade. Here's the problem with that: If the kids don't see the grade, they won't understand what they did wrong. I've had a few "F" grades on assignments, and the notes made by the teacher on those assignments helped me know what I did wrong so I could improve my work. That's why it's needed. And the professor of psychology cited in their story has it spot-on:

Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University, believes that schools that veer away from giving children the grades they have earned – even when it's a zero or an "F" – aren't doing anyone any good.

"Children aren't going to gain from ambiguous information regarding their grades," said Kazdin.

"The fact is children are failing yet we don't want to call it that," said Kazdin. "It's this whole notion that everyone's a winner and everyone gets a trophy."

He's right. This is nothing more than wanting the elevate the kid's self-esteem. "Everybody is a winner" has been a big deal in school for some time. This is why some schools have dropped keeping score during sporting events because they don't want to hurt the kid's self-esteem if they lose.

But what does this sort of reasoning teach kids today about the real world. The real world has winners and losers, folks. What happens when they go to college? Universities aren't going to be doing things like this. (Yes, I know there are some universities that pass people regardless, but not most of them.) And what happens when they grow up, and venture into the real world? Do they think their boss is going to let them slide if their work is sub-par, or if their work is incompetent? No, they're going to be counseled, and if the work doesn't improve they're going to be fired. That's failure that even these bleeding-heart teachers won't be able to get around.

Publius II


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