New Policy

My district is adopting a new grading policy. You can check it out here
if you’re interested.

I started off opposing the policy because it seemed grade focused instead of learning focused, and I think we spend way too much time worrying about grades and not nearly enough time worrying about what’s actually learned in a classroom. I’m also a firm believer in deadline. I teach a class built completely on deadlines, so how could I possibly not believe in them.

Back in the olden days though, I was a bad student. I struggled like none other with math and math based sciences. By the time I hit high school while everyone else was moving forward to higher level math, I was giving up. I could not catch up. I took four years of a foreign language to avoid one college math class. With the new policy our interim superintendent has put forward, learning is not an option. I also definitely see the truth in the current grading system makes no sense. 90-100 is an A (10 pts), 80-89 a B (9 pts), 75-80 is a C (5 pts) and 70-74 is a D (4 pts), the 0-69 is an F (69 pts). That doesn’t make a lot of sense.
I’m a firm believer in re-teaching and telling students learning is not an option. In contemporary public high schools we’ve made it quite easy to get through school without learning a thing. And we move on telling the students it’s their responsibility to learn the material they missed. A heck of a lot of students give up instead of bothering to try because there’s no way they’re ever going to master the content.
One of my students today was telling me all the reasons he didn’t like the policy. He said it creates lazy students and even rewards them.
He said he failed a test in Alg. 2 and he knew he’d have to study hard for the next test. He passed for the six weeks, but only with a C because of how badly he’d failed the test.
I said GREAT that he’d learned the value of studying hard and earning a grade. However, I had a question. WHAT was the content of the failed test.
He said it was over imaginary numbers (I have no idea what they are. I wonder if they have something to do with Pixie dust. )
So I asked him if he understood imaginary numbers now.
He said no.
So I said wouldn’t it better for you to be forced to come in for tutorials for however long it took to learn about imaginary numbers so every time you saw them from now on you’d see them and say YEP, I got this.
And wouldn’t it be better to be able to prove that by retaking a test and SHOWING he totally got imaginary numbers and everything about them and would never have a problem with them again because they’ll certainly be back over the course of the next two years of math he’ll be taking.
And I think by the end of that discussion he understood why I’m for the new grading policy now.
Yes, I’ll have to restructure how we do business in the newsroom. But it will ultimately be better for me and my students.


One response to “New Policy

  1. Mary Beth,
    We are on to something here if we can get the kids involved in the discussion, and help to create a paradigm shift…which is Dr. Powers goal. Math was so much pixie dust to me as well, but I have an enormous love affair with science, and try to use my right brained efforts to be a cheerleader for the left!! How weird is that! There is a great free course at MIT Courseware about literature and probability… I may have to do this one just to see where it leads. Leading with our curiosity may help us in this new culture. I love your sunny personality…and I need some down here at my end of the hall!!

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