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Students Are Always Half Right In Pittsburgh

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the think-of-the-children dept.

Education 881

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials have enacted a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying. If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester. The district and teachers union issued a joint memo to ensure staff members' compliance with the policy, which was already on the books but enforced only at some schools. At this rate, it won't be long before schools institute double extra credit Mondays and Fridays to ensure students don't take three day weekends.

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Or more reasonable policies (5, Insightful)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130839)

Or they could work on policies that reward significant improvement throughout the year. A rough start can be just that. Mandating that everything is at least 50%, even when a student gets a 0%, is a terrible idea.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (5, Interesting)

tekiegreg (674773) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130877)

Really, I have no problem with a "lousy start" policy of some sort, but to guarantee 50% while other students are giving and earning 100% annoys me to no end. How about simply this, guarantee that all quizzes and tests can be made up after hours (before/after class) that were taken in the first half of the semester for a maximum score of 80% of the total points awarded (gotta at least give a small late bloomer penalty)? Higher of the 2 scores will apply. Thoughts there?

Re:Or more reasonable policies (3, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130909)

Cool, now if I'm really good in that subject (math comes to mind), I can just skip the entire first half of each semester and still get a B in the class!

Re:Or more reasonable policies (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130979)

And maybe you should get exactly that? Seriously? Why the hell do bright students have to waste their time sitting on their ass while morons take all the teacher's attention?

Starting from grade 8 or so, you should be able to challenge any course. If you know your stuff, then you know your stuff, and you could use your time to do something productive, like university prep, sports, or volunteering... Something that'd be much better for your life and career than wasting time with idiots.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (4, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131067)

At my school you could:-) And I did:-) And it was glorious.

Got out of algebra, sex ed, and government because I already knew how to do it all.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (4, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131083)

I got out of them because I was *able to pass the tests* for all of them. Fixed that for myself:/

Re:Or more reasonable policies (3, Funny)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131107)

Why would you want to get out of sex ed?

Oh wait.. Never mind.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (3, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131191)

100 questions T/F like "You can get pregnant your first time" vs all those slideshows of diseased genitalia...hmmm, tough choice. Yeah I studied real hard for that test. Not.

They closed the sex ed loophole after me.

The government, 10th grade english, and algebra were respectably representative though. Even had to write essays in advance and read some stuff for English.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131239)

Fair enough. I went through the NZ school system when they started doing that stupid NCEA. They offered nothing along the lines of IT, and it was so watered down I got so bored I left and did my own thing. I'm doing very well for myself in the IT job market without government college schooling.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (3, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131289)

My school offered no IT type stuff either. We had a "computer technology" class that basically consisted of Word/Excel book exercises that even the teacher didn't know how to do.

I ended up having enough extra time in that class from blowing through the lessons on my own, that in my "down time" I kinda "helped out" the instructor for the class by trying to determine every possible way to break out of the school's sandbox/menuing system to get to a straight DOS prompt (actually with his encouragement). Every time he thought he had us sandboxed in I found a new way to do it :).

Re:Or more reasonable policies (2, Funny)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131133)

Holy shit! What was the placement exam for skipping sex ed?!

It'd be worth failing, just for the chance to try!

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130997)

Ever taken a math class... generally you can't skip the first half (fundamentals) and pass the second half (more advanced stuff). And while that might not motivate students to "be your best!", if the student is smart enough to pull that off... well I guess being smart does have benefits!

Re:Or more reasonable policies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131187)

You are an idiot.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (2, Insightful)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131091)

Cool, now if I'm really good in that subject (math comes to mind), I can just skip the entire first half of each semester and still get a B in the class!

Um, if you're that good at math, why would you settle for a B, and why wouldn't you deserve at least that high of a grade anyway, in recognition of your talent?

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130961)

How about simply this, guarantee that all quizzes and tests can be made up after hours (before/after class) that were taken in the first half of the semester for a maximum score of 80% of the total points awarded (gotta at least give a small late bloomer penalty)? Higher of the 2 scores will apply. Thoughts there?

Teacher: "Hmm, that sounds like it might^W^W work."

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

Thaddeaus (777809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131035)

Except that you'll need to pay the teachers and since the majority of americans seem to think that teachers are paid too much already....

But I had teachers who did this, retakes after school, and the time it takes adds up QUICKLY, especially if you're doing it for most of the tests.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

incripshin (580256) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130891)

Such as exponential averaging, or just making assignments worth more as the course progresses.

P.S. Exponential averaging for course grading would be awesome.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

Arngautr (745196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130905)

My school did this w/ gym. The resulting structure basically rewards students for not giving it their all early on and conversely punishes students who don't game the system. I'm not saying that improvement based grading is inherently bad. You can add 'effort' to counter this flaw but it can become pretty subjective.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130939)

Who the fuck cares what grade one got in 'gym?'

What kind of an opportunity would you be denied by flanking PE entirely?

Re:Or more reasonable policies (5, Funny)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130995)

Lisa: I _have_ to join the team or I'll get an F that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

[in the future, Lisa is being sworn in]

Man: I now pronounce you President of these United --
Reporter: Stop the inauguration! I just discovered our President Elect got an F in second grade gym class!

[crows gasps; Lisa is handcuffed]

Man: In that case I sentence you to a lifetime of horror on Monster Island. [to Lisa] Don't worry, it's just a name.

[Lisa and others are chased by fire-breathing monsters]

Lisa: He said it was just a name!
Man: What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (4, Interesting)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130947)

I would argue that gym is different than academic courses, and therefore should be graded differently.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131031)

Given the fact that one makes a successful career in America by gaming the sociopolitical system at work, I see nothing wrong with teaching kids how to game the system. Successfully manipulating through your environment to your own advantage is one of the most important skills a kid can learn to do good in life.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131245)

how does it punish students for not gaming the system? that's like saying welfare punishes those who aren't impoverished.

school is meant to help students learn. it's about social welfare, not commerce. when a student studies hard and turns in their homework, they're not simply trading labor for a good grade. doing homework and studying hard have inherent value to a student. it's not like a job where you work simply to get paid.

so when a student who doesn't study gets 50% by default while another student studies and receives 100%, the non-studying student isn't getting a better deal because there's no economic value being exchanged here. he hasn't gained an advantage from not studying.

giving poor students a better chance of catching up doesn't lessen the inherent value a good student gains from his hard work. either way good students can still receive just as good of an education from the school.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130917)

Yeah, this is really just a terrible idea. Mark the grades differently for quarters and allow children to do makeup work to bring a quarter up, a lot like they do with retaking classes in college.

Seriously, don't the administrators see something's wrong when the retired Home Ec teacher is saying that they're being too easy on the kids? In my high school, home ec was the class you took when you wanted an easy A.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131175)

No, they don't see anything wrong, and neither do 90% of the parents who prefer to let the schools parent their child. This kind of crap is exactly why I send my child to private school. Schools are (for all practical purposes) a government run monopoly with NO incentives to provide a good product. So what happens when schools fail? They get taken over by another government agency which won't do any better. The political machine around schools (including the unions) will ensure that we never get better schools either - ideas like vouchers to send you child to a school of your choice will be killed using millions of taxpayer dollars (yes, your tax money is being spent to harm your children in order to maintain the current corrupt and incompetent system.)

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130985)

1) This CSS template makes me want to claw my eyes out. I know I can avoid it. I'm merely mentioning this again, because it is so ugly.

2) This is BS. It won't fly in college and it doesn't adequately prepare students for working even minimal responsibility jobs. Working in fast food requires a high degree of accuracy. Making half the burgers wrong will get you fired quickly.

Let's see here. The majority of schools in the Pittsburgh public school system are accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Looking at their accreditation standards(http://www.css-msa.org/pdfs/Standards_for_Schools_with_Indicators.pdf [css-msa.org] ), and I quote for the lazy/PDF-impaired:

Indicators for schools with secondary school programs:
8.28 The educational program facilitates a smooth transition from elementary or middle school to secondary school.
8.29 The educational program develops academic knowledge and skills as well as career competencies.
8.30 The educational program provides appropriate educational programs for students who are concluding formal study as well as those planning further education.
8.31 The educational program develops habits of the mind and attitudes required for success in further education and in the workplace.


Seems to me this policy fails to meet their accreditation requirements from a very basic subjective view on 8.29-8.31.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131219)

1) This CSS template
makes me want to claw my
eyes out. I know I can
avoid it. I'm merely
mentioning this again,
because it is so ugly.


Apparently, It was
written by someone
from Pittsburg.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

dslbrian (318993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131273)

Mandating that everything is at least 50%, even when a student gets a 0%, is a terrible idea.

Well now lets see - no matter how bad you screw up the government will step in and bail you out ... sounds like Pittsburgh is planning on teaching the next generation of CEOs, perhaps to, oh I don't know, run a major financial corporation.

Re:Or more reasonable policies (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131287)

Or they could work on policies that reward significant improvement throughout the year. A rough start can be just that. Mandating that everything is at least 50%, even when a student gets a 0%, is a terrible idea.

Exactly. I feel that they are trying to adjust for the produced phenotype (results) with some technical manipulation instead of fixing the actual issue, which is whether kids are actually learning or not and how to get them all involved.

Fix everything where it really begins. A system where age directly tells what a kid should and should not know, and if they don't have it, they're failing instead of just behind a year, and other kids who are way more advanced just ride on As instead of moving up to more challenging tasks that they can handle with their drive.

Free up the age 'quantization', involve teachers who will take the time to involve kids more personally with respect relationships instead of 'indoctrinating oppressors' as they are often viewed.

Good Preparation (4, Funny)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130849)

From TFA...

"And she said one teacher she knows already worries about how awkward it will look when a student correctly answers three of 10 questions on a math quiz -- and gets a 50 percent."

That's just preparation to work in the American financial sector.

BTW, a decent idle story??? Idle still sucks and quote tag doesn't work???

Re:Good Preparation (5, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130907)

Well, if the student only got 3/10 correct, I wouldn't worry about them figuring out that their grade is off in any measurable way.

Re:Good Preparation (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130955)

I have a hard time figuring out how this qualifies as an idle story. This is a serious subject with potentially far reaching effects since bullshit policies like this tend to spread like wildfire by school boards who believe dumb kids can be loved into knowledge.

Is it that they want us to suffer through a comment box that inhabits 10% of the page's width? Do they not like the quote tag? Is this a power struggle between samzenpus and the other editors?

Re:Good Preparation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131011)

You can't spell nochildleftbehind without "idle".

In other news... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131183)

Goatse is always half-bent over in Pittsburgh
http://goastse.cz/ [goastse.cz]

If a student gets 20% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130851)

Perhaps they should repeat it.

If not, I suppose they can always find work as a Slashdot editor. Idle is about a -20% type job.

Grade half full (0)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130855)

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying.

Is 50% a passing grade? If so, then this gives students a reason to do nothing and get passed anyway.

Re:Grade half full (1)

jpt9 (590767) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130875)

No, it isn't. In every school I've been in, you need at least a 60 (for a D-). -- J.P.

Re:Grade half full (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130999)

No, 50-59% is an 'E'. However, 75% is a solid C, and the way that it was written says that individual assignments will be recorded as 50%, not just the quarters' overall grades. that means you can pick and choose individual assignments. In my district growing up, they mandated that 70% of the grade had to come from homework, since a lot of students had troubles with tests. If Pittsburg has a similar policy, they can skip every test and either choose to get 85% on each of their homework assignments, or just skip 1/5 of their homework and still get a C overall. That's fucked up.

Great! (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130859)

Well, it would be if I lived in Pittsburgh. Even if I only do half of my homework, I get 75% credit! And tests? If I don't feel like taking it that day, I won't! It won't make that big of a dent anyways.

Re:Great! (1)

psm321 (450181) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130971)

Actually, the way I read it, if you do half the homework, you get 50% credit. If you do none of the homework, you also get 50% credit.

Re:Great! (1)

isBandGeek() (1369017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130991)

If I do half the homework assignments* (sorry, clarification), then I get 50% for the part I didn't do, and perfects on the assignments I did do (assuming I get credit for doing them, not having to get them correct necessarily).

I KNEW IT!! (5, Insightful)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130861)

I'M SURROUNDED BY ASSHOLES!!!

Yep, the Idiocracy is well on its way to becoming a reality. Let's not grade on a child's actual performance in school, let's make certain they can at least "catch up." Yep, way to go. This mollycoddle society just irks the living shit outta me.

Re:I KNEW IT!! (4, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131045)

The idea, and whether it works or not is debatable, is to not discourage kids from trying.

In the old system, if you tank badly enough in the beginning you have to do extraordinarily well to get a passing grade.

With rare exceptions, most kids who are going to get less than a 50% on something are never going to get the grades in the second semester that will give them a passing grade.

They might be capable of improvement, and hard work may help them, but excluding certain exceptional cases(i.e. good student with something major going on in their life) which should be handled in other ways, they're not likely to get 100%.

If you're going to fail anyway, then anyone who isn't a total idiot is going to realize that putting any sort of effort in whatsoever is a big fat waste of time. There's no reward for that effort.

This system, and again, implementation may not give this result, is designed so that if a kid screws up the first half of the year, that they still have the opportunity to at least pass if they work hard and apply themselves.

50% isn't a passing grade, so it's not like they're going to skim through, all it does is reduce the depth of a failing grade so that kids can pull themselves out of it.

A good analogy would be being under 6 feet of water as opposed to 600. If you don't do something about it, you're still going to drown, but it's possible to swim to the surface.

If implemented correctly, it could ensure that certain members of your "Idiocracy" actually learn something, and maybe improve their knowledge, this is a good thing.

Of course that does't mean that this system might not be flawed(haven't read the details) or that it's implementation may not cause it to run counter to the intention, but the intention is good and has nothing to do with lowering standards or any sort of "idiocracy".

When people have no hope of improving their lives, they don't try to improve them. You can't, and probably shouldn't, improve someones life for them, but you can give them a hand up so that when they do try to improve themselves(and I mean genuinely try) that they are rewarded for it.

Re:I KNEW IT!! (5, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131131)

The solution to kids falling behind is to de-emphasize social promotion, not to give them more chances to keep up.

Also, I'm pretty sure that making it harder to fail is pretty much exactly the same thing as making it easier to pass.

Re:I KNEW IT!! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131159)

Yep, the Idiocracy is well on its way to becoming a reality. Let's not grade on a child's actual performance in school, let's make certain they can at least "catch up." Yep, way to go. This mollycoddle society just irks the living shit outta me.

That's what the liberals prefer with their socialized programs. It seeps into every facet of society. Political correctness runs rampant.

Re:I KNEW IT!! (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131251)

If inept, corrupt, deceptive companies aren't allowed to fail, why should we allow children to fail?

As a resident of a suburb of Pittsburgh... (4, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130883)

Let me warn all of you right now, if you do not live in Pennsylvania and you have any thought that it's a state that you would like to try to lead a productive life in, especially the south-western corner, please abandon those thoughts. Pennsylvania is a black hole of taxation and asshattery. Our governor isn't worthy to hold the position of a used cars salesman and the city of Pittsburgh is a financial and logistical burden for anyone who lives anywhere close to it.

Not to even get into the fact that Dan Onorato and Luke Ravenstahl are both self-serving bitches.

Re:As a resident of a suburb of Pittsburgh... (1)

thereofone (1287878) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131137)

Well, then put your daddy pants and volunteer on a campaign for someone you actually support and then remember to actually vote in things like primaries and elections! Or even run yourself! Many fucktards run unopposed in the primary, and in one district where a social studies teacher decided to run he got 40% of the vote on a $500 budget because he was someone other than the incumbent POS. Pittsburgh isn't inherently a bad city.

Great Life Lesson (5, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130893)

District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying.

Yes of course, and while we're at it, let's make it the law that everyone gets at least $50k/year, whether they actually work or not. That way we all get a "chance to catch up" and a "reason to keep trying".

Re:Great Life Lesson (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131029)

All I can think of is the rant Pixar inserted in to the Incredibles between the parents. Praising mediocrity and condemning truly exceptional people in the process is exactly how this country has gotten as fucked up as it is.

Brilliant minds are not needed for success! Don't worry! You can be amazing without ANY reason! Just because you were born in the USA, you have the not only the right, but the ENTITLEMENT to be rich, successful, and pampered!

Re:Great Life Lesson (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131095)

50k minimum a year. That's called the Obama plan. Ever notice that his answer to every question and issue is to create a program of some kind or otherwise throw taxpayer money at it. The idea that individual citizens are accountable and responsible for themselves has evaporated from modern America.

Here's the deal. There isn't going to be a taxbase anymore when EVERYONE is on the dole. The system only works when there are CITIZENS out there making it work. The government has no money. The government cannot solve any problems. The government can't save you. The government is NOT magic or Santa Claus.You can vote a chicken in every pot all you want. It won't make more chickens appear.

It's the people. If the people are hard-working, honest, compassionate, and well-educated, the country will reflect it.
If the people are lazy, ignorant, thieves who are mean, selfish and incapable of taking responsibility for their own lives, the country will reflect it.

Grade inflation works the same way as monetary inflation. When everyone automatically gets a 50 minimum, 50 becomes the new 0. The fact that people who are this ignorant have been placed in positions to control the education of American children is terrifying.

Re:Great Life Lesson (0, Troll)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131163)

That's the Green Party. No, I'm not joking [honeypot.net] .

There isn't a teacher alive (5, Insightful)

Troy (3118) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130895)

If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester.

There isn't a teacher out there who wouldn't pull the 20% kid aside and say "Look. You bombed. But, over next quarter/semester, if you do all/most of your homework and manage to get a C/B/whatever, I'll pass you."

My school district is looking at a similar policy, and I'm not happy with it. I don't mind putting a "floor" under students in freefall (especially when there are out-of-school forces in play), but its something that you do on a case-by-case basis according to the needs of the student.

If a district's teachers are not looking out for their kids this way, you have a deeper problem than a grading policy.

Re:There isn't a teacher alive (5, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131147)

If a district's teachers are not looking out for their kids this way, you have a deeper problem than a grading policy

Yes, I think this indicates a teacher problem more than a school policy problem.

If bad teachers are the problem, then good teachers are the solution, however, so many bungled ideas about how to attract quality professionals to education have made it impossible to attract quality applicants in many, many districts across the country (here in Indiana it's worse than the national trend)

If you want quality professional teachers who know when to "pull a kid aside" and give them some targeted help to pass a class, then you have TO PAY THEM.

Why would a quality teacher leave the serenity of the university town they lived in for school and go to some backwards dysfunctional derelict school district for half the pay as they could get at a functioning district?

The only solution is to have a national teacher's minimum wage, subsidized by the Fed. Gov't if necessary (some red states would rather pardon child murderers than raise teacher salaries).

Anyone who disagrees needs to think hard about what teachers are asked to do in today's america. They are expected to do so much but paid like unionized factory workers.

$50,000 is a good starting figure. You could pay for it by ditching NCLB and all the wasteful bureaucracy that it created.

Fed, state, and local gov't wastes millions on ineffective programs that try to do systematically what a good teacher will do intuitively.

For the record, IANAT...I used to be until I realized I was carrying the burden of absent parents and ignorant policy makers.

Re:There isn't a teacher alive (1)

irix (22687) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131167)

Agreed.

In fact, I recall some courses in University where they'd allow you "not count" your midterm exam if you got a better score on your final exam. There are a lot of other ways to change the weighting on exams/assignments than just handing out free course credits, which is what this pretty much amounts to.

Ebonics Bring It Back NOW (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130903)

I gots to haf ebonics

Grading system is broken. (5, Insightful)

arcade (16638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130915)

This indicates a broken grading system with a bad kludge of a hack on top.

If someone gets 5% at first half, and then majorly improves during the second half and gets 80% - and would easily be able to redo the tests of the first half and get 80% on them too at this time -- then of course the final grade should be around 80% - and the first grading should be ignored completely.

It's the actual knowledge at the end of the semester that should be graded - not the performance throughout the year. It's the knowledge one possesses at the end that is important.

Bleh.

Broken sysem with a bad hack .

Re:Grading system is broken. (2, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131003)

As much as it would be nice for learning to matter, from an real-world standpoint doing the work is more important. Regardless of level of knowledge, I want someone coming out of an academic institution to have a GPA reflective of their professional dedication, not their ability to slack off for a year and cram it all in in one night. I don't care what you know, I only care how hard you'll work. If you're willing to work, it's easy to learn.

This is a frightening stopgap to a rising lack of work ethic in this country.

Re:Grading system is broken. (2, Informative)

K'Lyre (600056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131151)

And this is what the founders of our government education system were thinking when they said (paraphrasing, obviously) "We're not trying to create thinkers here. We're trying to fill the workforce."

Re:Grading system is broken. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131253)

I don't care what you know, I only care how hard you'll work. If you're willing to work, it's easy to learn.

I disagree. For a lot of fields it really is what you know. I'd rather have a brilliant but lazy heart surgeon work on me than an incompetent but incredibly hard working one. I'd rather have a brilliant but slacker lawyer arguing my case than one who's hard working but can't get their head around the legal principles involved.

I actually am not totally against this (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130923)

The goal here is to avoid reducing the difficulty of tests. At my school, some teachers would have each test count more than preceding ones so that you could recover from an early failure, and also drop the worst (weight*score)* test to prevent one later bomb from killing you. I found it increased the incentive without making it feel hopeless.

Some teachers would let you retake a test (not same questions obviously) and average the scores together. At the time I thought it was very reasonable.

I'm completely okay with rewarding students for improvement and for avoiding making them want to stop trying. Though dropping classes is also an option.

I don't agree with the way they're implementing this, but their principle is correct. If you pull a 0 on the first of four tests your best possible grade is a C. Maybe this is appropriate in grad school or college (hell, I'm grateful for my C's in college, that's a lot of hard work), but not for high school.

The one thing is that in college I noticed I generally knew things well about a week after I was tested on them, so maybe my school built bad habits. Or maybe I just go to a really crazy school (Caltech)

Re:I actually am not totally against this (1)

Arapahoe Moe (665219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131165)

Caltech sucks.

Nothing new (4, Informative)

dunelin (111356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130931)

Our district has had this policy for a long time. As a teacher, it's not too much of a hassle because the whole point of education is to get the kids to learn. If it's impossible to pass the year because of what a student scored the first quarter, they'll give up for the rest of the year. With this policy, there is still hope. In our district, they get their actual scores for midyear and final exams and for the 4th quarter, so they will get killed eventually if they do nothing.

By the way, the bigger problem is with kids who do the work but don't think. I have lots of students who copy their friends' work, so they have great homework grades, but bomb tests because they have no clue what they're talking about.

Same in Dallas (2, Interesting)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131041)

Dallas (Texas) Independent School District is doing the same thing.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/081508dnmetdisdgrades.48e6cc22.html [dallasnews.com]

DISD is exceedingly dysfunctional (can't manage a budget, kick-backs, and so on). So this idiocy is small potatoes compared the the problems of the district as a whole.

Umm...er... (3, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130941)

Back when I was in grade school they didn't HAVE numerical points... everything was a letter grade so, yeah, you couldn't go lower than an F which is the equivalent here. Once I was in the upper schools, you STILL couldn't get lower than an F (59 in my school system) on the report card, no matter how low you were. I don't see why you need to "flatten" individual test grades, so long as the value to determine the grade is "reset" every grade period.

Or maybe now we could finally discuss my Spanish language class (In the US and taught by a native German who was visiting for a year?!?) who gave ONE quiz for one grading period comprising 4 questions (2 5 pointers and 2 45 pointers) and I had to explain to my parents why I was flunking Spanish because I missed 1 question for 45 points!

Also, if students make... oh say... 150 points on a test are they allowed to skip a later test or get A++++++ because they obviously have earned it? Or are they gated as well... what happens to THEIR self-esteem when this occurs?

Re:Umm...er... (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131089)

Also, if students make... oh say... 150 points on a test are they allowed to skip a later test or get A++++++ because they obviously have earned it? Or are they gated as well... what happens to THEIR self-esteem when this occurs?

They realize that mediocrity is A-OK, and only strive for 90% on everything. ;)

(That's what I did.)

Re:Umm...er... (1)

Pretzalzz (577309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131229)

Also, if students make... oh say... 150 points on a test are they allowed to skip a later test or get A++++++ because they obviously have earned it? Or are they gated as well... what happens to THEIR self-esteem when this occurs?

When I was in high school, if you got straight As in a subject[such that even failing the final would leave you with an A] you were excused from the final and didn't have to show up. I don't have a problem with this. If you don't understand the material you are never going to do well enough to pull up a 50 or a 0, and if you do understand it why shouldn't you pass?

Oblig (5, Funny)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130945)

Calvin and Hobbes [uclick.com]

I know, don't be a lazy teacher (5, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130949)

So, the problem is the teachers can only be bothered to test twice per class... Meaning a student getting 20% on the first test has to get 100% on the second to get a 60% average.

As a radical suggestion, somewhere in the long summer vacations, after the 2pm finishes... Get off your lazy asses and come up with say ten tests throughout the course.

Now a 20% on the first test only knocks 8% off the total grade, not 40%, and is quite surmountable without needing pity grades.

I realize this is clearly advanced rocket science so take your time to fully digest the idea. I'm freely offering it for the good of ull duh stoodnts in pitsbug.

Let's try not to make their being even stupider any more acceptable. One of these kids could end up becoming president one day and the last thing we need is a moron spending eight years in the whitehouse, driving the country, its military and its economy in to the ground. Let's keep that an unthinkable impossibility people!

Re:I know, don't be a lazy teacher (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131105)

Ouch, that's an awful policy. I didn't realize people ran into two-tests-per-class until grad school. At my high school finals were 20% of your final grade and those scared me a bit. They weren't that hard, but even a small slipup could really hurt you.

Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130951)

the world needs ditch diggers, too...

They can get a job at the PPA as meter maids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25130959)

They can get a job at the PPA as meter maids.

As you don't need to be that smart to give parking tickets.

Damn public schools (1, Informative)

Flavio (12072) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130965)

Education is too important to be left to the state.

OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (4, Interesting)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130969)

As a high school teacher, I often assign a score of 50 to anything less than a 50. Why? Because it's fundamentally unfair to offer a student with a 60 (a failing grade) a "smaller spread" to get to a 70 than a student who bombs a test with a 20 (also a failing grade). Why should one failing student have an opportunity to make up for a bad test grade, while giving another failing student no opportunity to do the same? The concept of having a 70-point spread for failing students, and a 30-point spread for passing students (on a scale of 100) is fundamentally flawed.

That said, I do assign a grade of zero to the students who simply don't bother to do the work. I would have issues with any school district that mandated that I give a grade no less than a 50, because that removes the option for me to assign a zero if I believe it's warranted. At any rate, we just need to scrap all this grading scale granularity and assign pass/fail grades: Either you have subject mastery, or you don't. No subject (not even math) is so objective as to ensure fairness for all students operating at the same level of content mastery.

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (1)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131065)

It's not fundamentally unfair. It shows the kids that aren't doing as well that they need to get their stuff in gear. Now, if the kid isn't doing well, and you want to take him aside and explain that you will be willing to erase some of his past scores (or increase them) if you see him do really hard work to try to bring himself up. But, when kids get tests back that say "50%" and it's obvious that 50% is your floor, now your kids can exploit the system and do just enough to get that passing grade, instead of working their butts off to try to get the passing grade. The kids don't try as hard, and potentially won't learn. You're doing them a disservice really. Will it take care of the kids that don't want to learn? No, and I would fail those kids as often as I could. It will help those that want to learn, but just have been having a hard time with things.

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (1)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131109)

And what you do, is remove 30% of the value for those trying to get A's.

This kind of hippie love-in that rewards laziness is the same mentality that reinforces the prior thinking of the banking industry. We NEED to FAIL people so we can judge them and make sure they get the place they DESERVE in society. Or, rather, make sure they DON"T get into the WRONG places in society. (i.e. positions of power for which they are ill suited).

Now, I am not against "fixing" grades for those who went through some trauma in the year. But if there is a general pattern of lazy behavior, there is no way these people should get free points. And you seem to agree with that. But I would be more strict. Don't let them be able to manipulate you, let the requirements (and documentation) be met for trauma.

Subject mastery is not boolean. I certainly don't want to hire anyone who got a grade of "pass" for my project team. I want to hire only "A" students.

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (1)

debatem1 (1087307) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131185)

So, you're predicating this on the idea that a student who massively fails the beginning of term tests (usually unit tests) should fail the class, even if their end of term tests (usually comprehensive) indicate subject mastery?

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131123)

I say it is unfair to the top students. I really wish people would stop this insanity that everyone is equal. We aren't! Some people are better at certain activities then others. This sort of grading system gives a false sense of knowledge and worth to the students who score below 50%. To me this is just like sports where they don't keep score to avoid hurting a kids feelings. The youngest year or two of a youth sport it is fine to not score, but after that you should. Competition is the lifeblood of this country, without it we stagnant.

I'm all for giving students a chance to improve the grade. Offer them a test of the same material with different questions to replace a bad test. Drop the worst test for every student.

Teach students that they have to put effort to succeed. Giving them a 50 every time just tells them that half the knowledge offered doesn't matter.

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (1)

K'Lyre (600056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131197)

Sounds good. Let's turn it around. 30% failing and 70% passing. I'm sorry if this is obtuse, but I WANT kids to only pass if they know AT LEAST 70% of what's covered in the class. And in my mind, that's a gift. I'd go for 80% if I had my drothers (sp?).
Why is it so horrible to require people to actually know something before we give them a certificate that says that they know it?
"Oh, he tried. Let's pass him anyways. So what if he still doesn't understand the basics of this course? They'll teach him this material again in the next level. That's a lot better than actually teaching the next level."

This strawman brought to you by Jiffy Pop. But I still hold to it.

Re:OK, I'll take the contrarian view... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131249)

> I often assign a score of 50 to anything less than a 50.

Yeah, let's lie to the students and pretend that they are doing better then they reallly are. Way to go for intellectual honesty.

> The concept of having a 70-point spread for failing students, and a 30-point spread for passing students (on a scale of 100) is fundamentally flawed.

As opposed to the old standard "50%"?? They both are completely _arbitrary_. What "percentage" is "good enough"? 60? 75? 80? that determines "mastery" ??

> Either you have subject mastery, or you don't.

That's the stupidest thing I've heard.

Grading doesn't account for _variety_ in problem difficulty.

You could design a test with all extremely easy answers, have everyone get 100%, and still not know jack about the subject. Likewise with extremely difficult problems have everyone fail, and yet they are more then capable of understanding the subject.

If the grade is viewed as a probability of given X random questions with varying difficulty, a student should be able to get Y questions correct.

When I was in school I helped a fellow classmate who stuggled to even pass math. The next exam he got over 80%. If students aren't getting good grades it is either:
a) they are mentally unable to
b) they don't give a fuck
c) the teacher sucks

Any type of pass/fail or numerical system doesn't describe the other underlying factors in how well a student _could_ do versus how well they are _currently_ doing.

This is also in the works in Texas (4, Informative)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130975)

Much like the current economic crisis, shouldn't failure be allowed? As some banks should be failing for bad investments, some students should fail to allow them to do-over.
I blew off a year of math and I went to summer school, once. I'm not proud, but it was a motivational experience. Summer school sucks.

SMU Dean David Chard In support of DISD's new grading policy [dallasnews.com]

On a more frightening note, public education now seems to be king, in California at least. Homeschooling Banned in California [naturalnews.com]

Does anyone else notice that things are going downhill? And they're speeding up?

Re:This is also in the works in Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131257)

"homeschooling banned" is misleading.
First, the laws pertaining to homeschooling in CA haven't changed.
Second, only unlicensed homeschooling is unlawful.

This is similar to what happened with Absinthe back in Octâ"Dec '07: the laws didn't change, they were simply made clear.

Negative Infinity (5, Interesting)

TejWC (758299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130981)

There is one course that I took that made us write down not only our answers in the test, but also our certainty for our answer. The scoring was a logarithmic scale such that if you say you are 100% sure of an answer but get it wrong, you get Negative Infinity for that question and you end up failing the class. Oddly enough, this course was in CMU at Pittsburgh.

Re:Negative Infinity (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131113)

That is such a good idea.

Fix for this (1)

I don't want to spen (638810) | more than 5 years ago | (#25130987)

You can do this and make the pass mark 75%. It makes no real difference, it just re-scales everything, and the students who get 50% won't understand anyway!

This *sounds* like bullshit, but I'm not so sure (3, Interesting)

mkcmkc (197982) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131005)

If you're thinking about the way pilots are (or ought to be) evaluated, or you think grades are a good stick with which to beat kids, this probably sounds like utter crap. But if you're really concerned about how to motivate kids, the picture is much more complex.

If you've never read it Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has an interesting passage [talkingtree.com] related to this subject. (It's one of my favorite books--you really should just read it in its entirety.)

I've got their college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131013)

Just call me Sarah Palin. I went to enough undergrad schools if you include area arrangements that allowed one class per term at other participating schools.

The Winner of Shame was a sophomore soc class where a 5-choice multiple choice test was a D- at 38%. At the evangelical college pre-med bio, I was told it would be 90, 80, 70, 60 "because the school was already selective."

I've had instructors toss candy for correct answers and one lecture hall where he gave away $5 each week to the student who first interrupted to correct the piece of disinformation he inserted into his talk.

Hey, not all of us went to Ivys. These kids should fit right in at American state tech schools, community colleges and four-years.

Re:I've got their college (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131125)

The correcting disinformation is really smart. Good way to make sure your students speak up if they think your wrong. And they know you want it and will lie at least once:-) I wish my instructors would do that.

Not that bad IMHO (1)

Arngautr (745196) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131069)

As someone who typically earned either As or 0s on assignments I can see some advantages in this scheme. The problem is in how we grade.
Because the difference between "good" and "bad" is so small (say 90% vs 60%) does it really make sense to have a range from 60% to 0%? And with it, trash any hope of achieving "average" marks if one bombs (or doesn't do) a few assignments?

Look at it this way:
100% (A) + 0% (F) yields a 45% ave. (F)
but 4.0 (A) + 0.0 (F) yields a 2.0 (C)

Get one 0 and the student needs four 100s just to hit 80%. That seems kind of harsh to me.

w/ the new system the same student would earn a 90% which seems about right to me.

This is why America will fail. (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131077)

Do I even need a comment?

Abdiction of responsibility, folks, whether you want it or not.

Doesn't surprise me (2, Informative)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131081)

Like anything else in government accomplishing goals is not a priority. Even when it comes to edcuating children. Or ensuring the future needs of a country.

Everyone wants a cushy job, nice pension. So, if the children are underperforming, it either the kid's fault or the teachers. Now that kids can't fail and all get 50%, well its probably a lot harder to fire a really lousy teacher, huh??!!!

I mean this one seriously to boot (sadly enough):
1) Let Students get at least 50%
2) ????
3) Profit!!!!

They'll all fail in college (1)

averner (1341263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131097)

American college is a whole different ball-game, and high school hardly prepares people for it anymore. There are already plenty of Americans coming into college unprepared and failing most if not all of their classes in their first semester. What do you think will happen as we loosen the standards in the public school system? If we keep relying on imported intelligence to pass our universities, we will be left with nothing as the rest of the world's universities catch up.

Also, if people have so much trouble with catching up after getting 10% or 20% on a major test, then I think it is better to just change the grade distribution than to create another artificial grade inflation mechanism. Make everything a lot harder (and grade things without fluff), but make 80+% an A, 60+% a B, 40+% a C, 20+% a D, and anything below than an E/F. That will make it easy for failing students to catch up without the educational system having to rely on ever-increasing grade-inflation schemes.

sure, as long as (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131145)

As long as its all True/False tests

This isn't so bad (1)

Paeva (1176857) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131169)

This actually happened to me in middle school. I had two good semesters and one bad one. I got a B, B+, and an F, and I barely squeaked by with a D- for the year because the teacher averaged together the grades by their numerical values.

So, maybe I'm an idiot and should have been held back in 8th grade English, but I would support fixing this broken aspect of grading.

Just because you can't give a kid a grade that is phenomenally lower than an F doesn't mean that you can't still choose any grade from A to F.

Alright.... (1)

localhost00 (742440) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131193)

I'll take this new policy. I just need to make an adjustment to my syllabus:

  • A: > 95%
  • B: 90-95%
  • C: 85-90%
  • D: 80-85%
  • F: < 80%

The US public education system is screwed. It has been, and now they are just stripping out the hole. That's it... Just turn up the torque on your drill, and watch as the screw just turns freely now.

These policy makers need to stop being wimps and let teachers hold students accountable instead of cowering to students' self-esteem.

I would have skipped everything and passed. (5, Insightful)

Jason Pollock (45537) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131213)

Has anyone thought of what this actually means? Mathematically?

For example, let's say there are 5 assignments and 2 tests. The tests are worth 25% of your final mark.
The assignments are worth 10% each.

Additionally, let's go with the ABCDE scheme, and the student needs a 60% to pass with a D.

What's the minimum mathematical grade needed to pass?

First the tests: 0% on either test.

We've now got 25% on the course.

Then the assignments:

3 assignments: 0%

We've now got 40% on the course.

2 assignments: 100%

We've now got our 60%, D grade for the course.

That means even though the student received a mathematical 20% when their entire coursework is taken into account, they would receive a D.

That is definite grade inflation.

Based on my behaviour in high school, I would have most definitely gotten 100% on the first two assignments, and then skipped the rest of the term, walking out with my 60%. Would I have known the material? Definitely not. Would I have known 60% of the material? Definitely not.

Passing failures or failures passing..,,, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25131227)

The same thing is happening is schools in the territory where i am. It is an absolute joke. They have kids finishing high school (12 years of schooling) who cant read and everyone knows it. But they cant be held back, they cant be graded as being unable to read and if singled out for "special education assistance" its generally becomes a race row problem as unfortunately many of these illiterate kids are indigenous Australians.

To not grade anyone properly is the biggest disservice you could ever do to them. Kids are lulled into believing that they are actually valuable to society (in a work sense) even though they are 100% worthless and are actually a burden as they need to be trained up to a level that should be a base standard for a high school graduate.

A comment above was made about putting a "floor" under students. I personally think that is the wrong way to go. I say put a CEILING over all students. When you can reach the ceiling you move on. Until then. You stay in the same class until you can reach the ceiling. A floor is a back door system that implies you need to stop the kid from falling/failing. If the kid is failing so far you need to fabricate a reality with a false "floor" then maybe the kid doesn't need a floor at all but needs to actually drop down a level and come back when they have the necessary skills/experience/intuition to learn what they are currently failing.

My mate Pauly at 25 year of age passed year 12 in this Territory and can barely read. e.g. his idea of reading a car magazine is to look at the pictures, guess what the parts in the engine bay are (brand/model etc), then ask me to read the article then tell him if he was correct. He's a classic example of how this pass everyone system works. Or more to the point DOESN'T work.

Doesn't seem too bad.. (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131233)

I would have loved a policy like this in high school. During my first 2 years in high school (at a different school than I completed the last 2 years), most of our grade was weighted on homework and not work done in the classroom. Classroom work ended up being a very small portion of the grade in comparison to homework. We're talking about 40% homework, 40% tests, and 20% classwork. It was a weird weighted system that overburdened students with making sure they were doing their homework.

Terrible idea. In most cases, I didn't do homework. That wasn't any measure of my aptitude as being a student. I aced my tests, aced my classwork, but even 100% acing every test and 100% every classwork assignment, it would mean tops of a 60% grade in the class. And I admit not every single test was aced by me, some of them I didn't do as well on here and there.

I'm in favor of this simply because it means the student has a chance to pass even if they aren't the type of person to do well in certain "method" than the other.

This is GREAT! (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131241)

Yeah, all you smart overachievers and concerned parents can whinge about it.

But for us smart underachievers, this is a promise that if we work hard the first 9 weeks, we can totally not do anything the next 9 weeks and still fly through with a C average. AWESOME!

And if you think students won't do that, you have never met 4/5 of my friends.

Great life lesson (5, Insightful)

MasterC (70492) | more than 5 years ago | (#25131243)

This teaches a great life lesson and ethic. Let's see how well it carries over into the working world!

Not leaving the struggling behind is noble and all, but when the rope pulling up the strugglers is tied around the neck of the non-strugglers the nobility ends and the entire system is degraded.

If you blow off a test you damn well deserve a zero. If you don't turn in homework then you damn well deserve a zero.

If you just. can't. get. chemistry then the teacher should be willing and have latitude to help you.

Why should someone who works their ass off for a 55% be completely marginalized by someone who skipped class to get 50%?

Government intervention in the housing market has royally screwed things up. School administration intervention into teaching will royally screw things up. In both cases we lose as a whole.

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