Q&A #356

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Curving test scores

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From: Scott

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 1998072521:56:06
Subject: Re: Re: curving test scores

Teachers work hard on "how to correct or adjust" situations which they may not understand. So grades are "curved" if scores are too low. This cheapens accomplishments of significance by strong students. This is done often because the teacher suspects the test was too difficult. Besides, when the grades are curved everybody wins to some degree. And boy do we like winners. So much so that we have designed a system (over the last 40 years) that adjusts for failure so only the pathetically weak students feel the weight of knowing exactly where they stand. Are election returns curved so the losers feel better? Does the NFL curve stats so nobody loses his job and everybody gets a SuperBowl "diploma"? Not the ring, of course, but some tangent symbol designed to make everyone feel better about losing. When the grades are all high do you adjust the results because the test may have been too easy? I bet not. A top-notch teacher (and there's no substitute for experience here) will learn what kind of an average grade to expect from a particular event. An average grade of 85 is reasonable and tests should be designed to produce that result. That means that the bright students can "shine," the weaker students can "hang on," and the poor students will expose their weaknesses... and everybody gets a fair and accurate picture of their performance at that point in time.

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