Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Policy Vs. Philosophy

A teacher friend of mine asked a tough question the other day. What should a teacher do when he objects to a Board of Education Policy?
Let me give you the scenario. The school is underperforming and has been for a quite a few years. Many students are not on track to graduate on time because they choose to not attend school, not turn in assignments, and not behave appropriately in the classroom.
So, the Board of Education, many years ago, decided that the lowest grade a student can earn for the first quarter of a semester (1st and 3rd quarters) is a 45%. This would allow them to earn a 75% during the second quarter of the semester and a minimum of a 60% on their final (worth 20% of the grade) and still pass the course.
Philisophically, the Board of Education views this as a way to give students a chance. Even that student who turns in zero assignments or shows up twice during that first quarter of a semester. Philisiphically, the teacher views this as a way to provide students with grades they haven't earned.
I told him he should put an asterisk next to the 45 on the grade change forms he's recieved from the guidance office because he put their actual scores down instead of the 45's.


At 6:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I would be pissed off, to say the least, if I was being forced to pass kids who didn't earn it. And what about the kids who work so hard to earn the grades, talk about a dis-motivation for them! I think I'd go to a charter school or move to another district.

It's wrong to pass kids to make a school "appear" better. It does a GIANT disservice to the teacher, student, and society. Graduating kids who aren't ready for the world is a sham.

How frustrating this post was, but thanks for sharing it. Trust me, I know all to well about 50% of kids failing, it's a chunk of my students! But, I will NEVER give a passing grade. And, if they screw up the first quarter and show improvement and effort, I'll work with a kid, but they HAVE to prove it. No courtesy Ds from me.

At 8:08 PM , Blogger Joe said...

This seems to me to be a non-problem. A 45% is a failing grade; it's an F. The teacher is being allowed to give the student an F for the period during which she did little or no work. There are many reasons for a student to have problems during the first semester. Some students will later respond to the efforts being made by caring teachers to get them back on track. Obviously, a student would have to make a real turn around to get a 75% from this teacher. If so, the student must do the work, must make an effort and must fulfill the requirements met by any other student who gets a 75%. Are we saying that we want to screw any student who messes up and then makes a real effort? Childhood is about chances, about learning that when you screw up you make things hard on yourself, but if you make a real effort you can do wonderful things.

This policy is not a problem. The teacher is being bitter and punitive. Not the kind of person we need teaching.


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