Saturday, February 7, 2015

School Report Cards

This week the state of North Carolina released "report cards" on individual public schools, kindergarten through high school. The report card grades, ranked A to F, were based mostly on test scores and less on academic growth.

Hard work by dedicated teachers didn't factor in.

High poverty. No, didn't matter.

High income. No, didn't matter.

Specifically chosen students who were interviewed and selected to a school based on potential. No, didn't matter.

In my county, made up of schools with a cross section of excellence in both teachers and students, only one school received an A, the early college, made up of those specifically chosen students. The rest, mostly B's or C's and a couple D's, no F's, a slightly lopsided bell curve, if my statistics class lessons serve me right.

So what did this report mean?

It meant a lot of fuss when the report first came out. It meant no excuses accepted, no exemptions allowed. It meant surprised parents hearing their child's school scored so low. It meant discouragement for teachers who for several years, hard years, brought their school's test scores higher than the previous years through a lot of excellent teaching and many, many hours dedicated to the cause. It was a wake up for some.

Back in the seventies, when American schools were going through as many "new and innovative" changes that could possibly be introduced, I remember sitting with other teachers expounding on what will work and what won't work. Those were the days of the democratic classroom, when children had a "say" in their education. Those were the days of the "new math" where memorizing times tables was thrown out the back door, and the days of the "don't correct their's the creativity that counts."

One teacher believed each student should be making straight A's. To accomplish this, he had the students do over and do over and do over each work sheet or activity until it was mastered. Good pedagogy in theory, one that I practiced to a point.

But this teacher went one step further. When the final paper was redone, he recorded the grade as perfect, a 100. As a consequence, a wonderful consequence if you were the child, when he averaged grades, everyone made A's. When the report cards went home, the parents were thrilled. The children were proud. Everyone was happy.

But was it reality?

Parents (and teachers) here in North Carolina realized this week that reporting achievement isn't the same as reporting progress. Their schools got a new report card.

Catch of the day,


1 comment:

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