Friday, November 20, 2015

A Reader Writes... Pass / Fail - Part 2

In response to the 9/22/2015 post, “Pass / Fail – Part 1,” a reader writes:


I agree with what you are saying. But what is the most viable alternative? How do we move whole systems to change after all of this time?

A new, better system will require a huge education for not only teachers and students but the parents and others who are measuring us as we measure our students.  

SC Response
If you are a principal, and you are comfortable being proactive, you can do a lot. Here are four things you could do right now to ensure that the grades on your campus are consistent from class to class and reflect a more accurate measure of end of course mastery.

1. Homework for practice, not a grade. If the student does the homework, the reward is being more capable of passing the course assessment(s).  The penalty of not doing the homework is being less capable of passing the course assessment(s).  The student who doesn’t need to do the homework shouldn’t have to. And the student who should do the homework and doesn’t, shouldn’t be penalized twice.

2. All tests are common (the same from class to class for a given content) and are graded using a common (developed by the content department) rubric. That way a student isn’t placed at a GPA disadvantage by being in the class of the “harder” grader.

3. Allow re-tests on all tests, up until the final. The final exam is the test that should matter the most.  Everything up until the final is simply practice.

4. Create common, cumulative finals and allow performance on the final to either not hurt the student or trump everything. For example. 

a. I have an 87 average going into the final.  I get a 75 on the final, so the final doesn’t count against me. 

b. I have an 87 average going into the final.  I get a 93 on the final, so my final grade for the semester is a 93.

Either way is a win/win for the school and the student.  In example A, the student has the motivation to perform during the semester to provide a level of “Final Insurance.”

In Example B, the student has the motivation to continue to grind and engage in the learning for a chance to improve her grade.

The con would be the student who does nothing throughout the semester and aces the final.  Some would say that we would be rewarding a malcontent.  But I would argue that for this particular student, the student who obviously didn’t need the instruction, enduring the class was punishment enough.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...

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