Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More on grades

Still mulling the grades thing. What are they for? Do we (parents or teachers) give "good" grades as rewards and "bad" ones as punishment?
Um... no. I didn't when employed and won't do it now. Grades, in and of themselves, can't be good or bad. That is a value assigned to them. They can be high or low, but not good or bad. If they are what they're supposed to be, they're just a measurement of academic accomplishment to the point at which they're given. You know, I like "earned" better--to the point at which they're earned.
I remember telling classes that I didn't sit at my desk with an ouija board, their names on little slips of paper, waiting for the voices to speak to me so I could mark their report cards. I just read the printouts. "Nope, kids, I went into French and Spanish so I wouldn't have to do the math. The software does it all."
This worrying about low grades for my students reminds me of teachers who don't like standardized tests. I only had to deal with them by the impact on the class schedule, when I would inevitably plan a test on a day I'd only have them for 25 minutes. They needed the rest of my time to finish some part of the MEAP. Now, if one looks at test results (or grades) simply as a diagnostic tool, looking for areas where help is needed, you're okay. If they're used as a stick to beat the underachieving, that's where the defensiveness comes in. I will admit, though, sometimes you need the stick.
Since I'm the teacher, the parent, on the school board and I'm involved with the administration, I can keep this in proper perspective. Grades will not be used to punish anyone--teacher, student, parent, nobody. They will be regarded as high or low, not good or bad. They'll be used to focus on areas where we need to improve.
So will I be giving grades to Madeleine this quarter for her second grade subjects? Sure. Why not? They are a fair measure of her progress to date. She doesn't know anything about them. I didn't when I was her age, either, so that's as it should be.
Besides, they're all A's.



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