Make it count.
My 9th grade students arrived in September fresh out of the challenging and rigorous world of middle school. That breeding ground of high intellectual growth and accountability. It happens every year, from districts in the great state of Washington to the the lovely state of Connecticut. Millions of former 8th grade students flutter into the classrooms of high schools ill-prepared for the realities ahead.
Much has been written in the past few years about how unprepared high school graduates are for college. Something in the area of 1/3 are not ready for basic 101 courses in English. With the ever increasing liability for academic progress being pushed by lawmakers onto high school teachers, it is time that we stop social promotion in our schools.
It is absurd to promote a student who is not capable of demonstrating the proper mastery of content because it might hurt their self-esteem. This make our kids feel good about themselves attitude has created an atmosphere in which students are not ready for the academic world of high school or subsequently college.
In the state of Washington, where students now must pass the WASL to graduate, it is time for lawmakers to step out of Olympia and into the classrooms to see what exactly we are dealing with. The suits want to suddenly hold these students accountable for their education after years of teaching them that grades don't matter.
This is simply demonstrated by looking at my gradebook this fall. Missing assignments after missing assignment has left some students struggling to maintain grades. Now, there are those who would say I need to accept late work--that it is the content learning that is most important.
Philosophically, I can't agree with that. Because I sure know that when I don't pay my credit card bill on time, the creditors don't accept my late payment without a consequence.
Here is what needs to happen, a total overhaul. If by the end of third grade a student is supposed to be able to read at a third grade level, then they should not move on to fourth grade. I don't care if it hurts their feelings. If parents would stop coddling their children and thereby teaching them that life has no hard knocks, children would learn to adapt. Isn't that what we teach in Biology class? Species adapt. Survival of the fittest.
Maybe I'm just being selfish. But for the sake of every educator who teaches at the next level, whatever level that might be, hold kids accountable.