31 January 2007

Grade Inflation/Relativity

Today I was having an interesting conversation with my wife, who is a teacher at the college level, about whether there is grade inflation or relative grading based on how much effort a student puts into their work. I was asking her if teachers grade based on behavior/effort. I mean, as a teacher, will I be one who gives students enough points to get them to a "C" even if their point average is not enough for that? I guess the conversation came as a result of my class taking a test today. During the test, I was watching several of the students and I could tell who was putting effort into the test and who was just marking answers on the scantron sheet. There were students who didn't even read the questions. These are the same kids who, during the review, had no idea what the answers were and sat with a blank look on their face when they were called on.
So, when the tests are graded, who gets points when they need help? I suppose the answer should be really easy, but I have a problem with the fact that ANYONE ever gets any points without earning them. On the other hand, aren't the kids who make an effort to study "earning" their grade even if you have to give them a point or two over what their actual raw score is? (Bear in mind I am not talking about giving a student with a 50% point average a "C" on their report card.)
Some of this question bears asking because I look at the student's grade reports and I wonder how so many kids are passing this class with the (lack of) effort they put out. There is one student who finished a 40 question test in about 7 minutes and had no idea what was happening during the review, yet he has a "B" in the class. This kid talks incessantly, never does work independently, nor does he do much other than distract others during class. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a student who is quiet, asks for help, turns work in on time without being pressured to do it and has a "D" in the class. So how is that fair? If the "D" student were my child, I would wonder what was going on (especially if I had knowledge of the "B" student's behavior problems).
In this class there is weighted grading, i.e. tests/projects are worth>quizzes and worksheets. This would seem to benefit the struggling students who never turn in work; however, that doesn't seem to be the case here. I wonder if the teacher gets pressure from the coaches to keep kids eligible for sports? Surely at this level there is not that kind of business going on. At a 6A high school? Sure, but not at a middle school! I just can't imagine. So what is the deal? I can't figure it out and I see the kids, the teacher, and the grades. It's a mystery to me!

No comments:

Post a Comment