kitchen table math, the sequel: uh-oh

Thursday, October 11, 2007


So Ed spent hours the other night helping the son of a friend of ours with a social studies writing assignment.

Mom just called.

Son got a C.

Ed is so not going to be happy.

Of course, he's doing better than I am. I got a C- in Earth Science on my article summary, which I co-wrote with my child.

I'm thinking it's just possible that the whole Literacy thing, which appears to be happening in every nook and cranny of our country, may finally be the thing that does in public schools. There are a whole lot of parents out there who aren't going to be thrilled to see their kids bringing home inexplicable Cs and Ds on papers their parents had to co-write because their kid didn't have a clue where to start.

Remember the British historian?

Getting her C+ in Connecticut?

btw, we now know for a fact that we've had intentional grade deflation here in Irvington. The Phase 4 teacher, back in 6th grade, was told "to keep her grades down."

The issue wasn't that her grades were too high. Her grades were low. (In one of her years, as I recall, she was having class averages in the 70s and perhaps even the 60s once or twice.)

She was told to keep her grades down, period.

Parents and students weren't informed.

We are now going to be experiencing harsh, punitive grading of writing, too, it appears.

oh, yay

grade deflation in high schools

Susan's book, What High Schools Don't Tell You says a lot of high schools deliberately use grade deflation in 9th grade (must find the passage).

Her advice is to find out whether your school has a grade deflation policy and, if so, to tell them to top doing it.

That'll work.



Don't see the passage now.


SteveH said...

Has anyone seen grade differentiation, where teachers give out grades based on what they expect from a child? I think it goes on at our school, but I can't tell. Many things are graded with rubrics and what I see might be non-linear grading. Rubrics now go to 5 and almost everyone gets a 3 at worst. It's difficult to get a 4, and almost impossible to get a 5. It has to be more than correct.

This seems to be a form of grade deflation. A new level is created (level 5) that can be obtained only under magical conditions. You would think that the rubric explanation would make it obvious, but to get a 5, you have to do a lot more, and they never say what that is.

Only in my son's math class is there any correlation between right and wrong and grade. Everything else is a judgment grade, and it's not clear how that judgment is made, in spite of detailed rubics. To get a 4, and especially a 5, you have to do more. You have to read the teacher's mind.

By the way, now that my son is back in public school (sixth grade), he is doing a lot more crayon work.

Catherine Johnson said...

I should clarify the grade in this case.

This student was given a "2."

I called it a C because of the points awarded, which came out to...a 70% or something like that.

No mention, in the rubric or on the paper, of how a precise number of points came to be awarded.

This is a very capable student, in mostly Honors classes, AND HE HAD A COLLEGE PROFESSOR HELPING HIM.

He has a 2.

Then he had to write a reflection on how he could improve.

Catherine Johnson said...

I told Ed just a couple of minutes ago that if this is what we're going to see at the high school, C. will not be doing writing assignments there.

Catherine Johnson said...

He has only a few years left before college.

He can spend that time doing writing assignments that are veiled exercises in obedience to authority or he can spend that time learning to write a discursive essay.

That's a no-brainer.