Q&A #5103

Teachers' Lounge Discussion: Grading policy

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From: Harry Petersen

To: Teacher2Teacher Public Discussion
Date: 2000123113:42:13
Subject: Re: Grading: consider the political implications or don't get everyone mad at you!

  After teaching for 10 years in U.S. high schools, the first lesson I
learned was: Grades need to be based up effort, based upon what the
political situation in you system demands, and based upon what you
need to do to get the kids on your side. 

  The above lesson was learned in my various travels: California,
North Carlolina, and to some degree in South Carolina. It's always the
same everywhere: If you give students grades based upon achievement
upon objective standards that are based upon traditional content, then
you are in BIG TROUBLE! What you learn is this: objective/traditional
standards (this is what the universities demand for students to do
well in their math courses) = high failure rates amongst US students=
complaints from parents= conferences from administration= your
termination (unless you change your ways). 

  ON the other hand, if you play the game right then students will
like you= parents like you= the administration like you= you keep your

  NOw the activists on the board will decry the realities I just
explain. They will state that this "never happended to me," or "my
adminstration supports me," or "there is something wrong with you,
Harry," and on and on.  Of course, these detractors are almost always
mistaken on one or more grounds: 1) They don't teach objective content
( "warm and fuzzy" is the motto), 2) The content is non-traditional (
e.g, eliminate two-column proofs and usually de facto nearly all
proofs in geometry)3) They teach "Honor" kids and the AP students. 4)
They have taught at the school for many years (usually 20+) and can
get away with a lot of things teachers in their first 3 years can not.
5) They have decieved themselves and thus inflate the grades like

   Although private schools are a little better on grading, you will
still get the ire of parents if you teach to international standards.
Good luck and don't let anyone fool you about how political the
schools are!

Best Wishes,

Harry Petersen 

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