Grades, Marks and Report Cards

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Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:18 am UTC

I'm starting this thread for two reasons, one pertaining to me, and one pertaining to my son. First, me.

When I was growing up, it was reinforced that grades were the be-all and end-all of school, and indeed my entire existence until I was out of school. School wasn't for fun, school wasn't for social interaction, and school certainly wasn't for fun... it was about getting straight A's. If I got a B, I would be forced to sit down and have a talk with my parents (or rather, my father and my step-mom) about why I chose to get such a low grade when I was capable of getting an A. Looking back, I often think that I got low marks now and then just to piss them off. Now, I don't mind shooting for high marks, and I generally got A's, but all it proves is I have great short-term retention for facts. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I've forgotten nearly everything I learned. If they wanted to teach us study and memorization skills, they went about it the wrong way, but there doesn't seem to be anything else to the constant standardized testing except to check our study and memorization skills.

Secondly, my son. We got his first report card, and this is the first time I've seen Math, Science and Social Studies marks on a kindergarten report card. Even stranger, the three grades for each course are "Approaching", "Meeting", or "Exceeding". My son is "Approaching" in every single category, and this baffled me and my wife for a long time. My son is halfway through a math book aimed at 8+ year olds, and he's 5, and he hasn't gotten any wrong yet (it was his idea to get a math book for home so he could learn, he's a little nerd in training). We were wondering exactly how he's only APPROACHING kindergarten average levels for math and language, when we found out that the kindergarten syllabus has certain benchmarks that have to be met by May, and since he hasn't done them yet, he is only "Approaching". The thing is, they haven't DONE 90% of the benchmarks yet, so EVERY kid in the class is "Approaching". What is the point of sending home a report card that just indicates that THE SCHOOL YEAR ISN'T OVER YET?!?!?!? They might as well put "May 2008.... Approaching" instead of Math, Science, etc. The entire report card is just a piece of paper that says "Your son attends school, and isn't a parsnip. Please sign this."

Do we need to grade these kids in kindergarten, AND do such a piss-poor job of it?
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby aetherson » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:32 am UTC

my only suggestion is that he learns to enjoy learning.
screw the grades.
(yes i know they're important for college...but if I could, i'd say screw that too)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:34 am UTC

He loves learning. See the part where he made us buy him a math activity book so he could learn at home. :)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Fossa » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:35 am UTC

I think grading in kindergarten isn't necessarily a bad idea but they should be meaningful if they do it. What they gave you is beyond pathetic. Heck, if some parents weren't as observant and inquisitive they might be upset with their kid or do something unnecessary along the lines of discipline.

Feedback is always a good thing though.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Kikral » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:40 am UTC

This is a stupid idea. There is no sugar-coating.

I understand that people want each kid to be prepared for actual 1-5th and beyond, but grading in Kindergarten is a pointless way of doing things. And to be vague on how the grading scale works is just going to make people think something different than what things actually are.

Also, I know people see grades as the end all be all for school, but the way I was taught was just to do your best. My parent believed that I could do better in some of my classes until I showed them exactly what I was doing in ninth grade.

The way I did that was sit them down, give them a document based question packet (where you have a series of documents pertaining to the P.E.R.S.I.A.G. Categories, a question, a grading rubric, and a time limit of 45 minutes) and had them, along with me, write an essay pertaining to the documents.

45 minutes of near complete silence from them, constant scribbling and furious scribing for me. When I graded their essays (I had explained to them how to write the essay beforehand), they got a 2 out of a 9 scale. Turning mine in the following week, I got a 7.

My parents no longer goad me to do better in school.

EDIT: For the curious, the question was how the industrial revolution screwed up Manchester (?), and had you identify obvious bias or something like that
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Klye » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:42 am UTC

It could be a way to get parents who only want the absolute best to realize that it isn't always possible - starting to train the parents into not being unrealistic by not giving the best possible grade even if it was earned.
My first grade teacher and her colleagues did the same thing: during first grade the highest grade any kid was allowed to get was a B. So, even though I was in the group reading the 6th grade level book, I had a B in reading, the same as the kids reading the 1st grade level book.

I don't know how much sense that makes, or even if it was the intended purpose in your case, but it could have been.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Yawgmoth » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:51 am UTC

The school system (at least in the states, I can't speak for other countries) is just basically fucked. teachers typically either don't give a shit about teaching, or aren't allowed to teach anything but what was handed to them from on high by a bunch of people with a degree in PC horse shit. You could get a kid to learn and retain everything you'd learn from 12 years of public school in about 8 years of home schooling, if both the kid and parent(s) were really into it. There's a multitude of programs that teach 1-5th grade reading and math, that if you did 1 lesson a day, your kid with be scoring >80% by the time he'd be in 3rd grade. But we could never implement them in public schools, because you couldn't have the needed 10-20 student classes needed; it's too expensive.

Not to mention how many parents out there think that "johnny couldn't possibly have done that bad in his classes, the teacher must just have it out for him! I want him to pass that pass or we'll sue!" and so the kid gets passed, yet doesn't learn anything except that if you complain, you get to pass.

In my opinion, the whole damn thing should just be scrapped and re-evaluated. get some programs in place that actually teach our kids the things they need to be taught so they can succeed, and more importantly, learn. Because once you know how to effectively learn, you can do anything - but we aren't even teaching them that much.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby lorenith » Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:55 am UTC

I can't remember much of kindergarten at all, or if we ever even had report cards, but yeah that sounds really...well silly for your son to have gotten. If I had a kid I might actually talk to the school board about it because it's that pointless and doesn't give any real information on the child. (If applicable anyway...)

Lately though I've been losing faith in the education system in my state though, all the good teachers/admins end up in trouble for doing too good a job (wth) and standards seem to be lowering for teachers, at least in Texas...

Sometimes I get to thinking if I ever have kids I'd probably just home school them, or go out of my way to put them in a good private school, even if I have to sell my organs to get them into one.

Not to mention how many parents out there think that "johnny couldn't possibly have done that bad in his classes, the teacher must just have it out for him! I want him to pass that pass or we'll sue!" and so the kid gets passed, yet doesn't learn anything except that if you complain, you get to pass.


One reason I'm a little terrified of when I start teaching, although some of that sueing that went on was made because the teachers/school never made themselves available at all for any sort of (free) tutoring. That's neither here nor there though...
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Hexadecimator » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:21 am UTC

Grading systems in general are screwed up. While receiving a report card on a kindergardener is perhaps one of the worst examples I've heard, every grading system I have encountered is entirely subjective. An A- from one of my teachers this year would be worth around a B- or C+ from another. Classes vary wildly from "A for effort" to "excellent, well written lab report. 44/50."

In short, grades are almost worthless. Applying them to a student who completes no graded assignments is insanity.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby EvanED » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:04 am UTC

I got evaluated in kindergarten. They weren't letter grades, but a bunch of categories like "Names letters of the alphabet", "When shown a word with a short vowel, can blend the sounds and read the word", "Self-corrects if a mistake is made during oral reading", and "Can independently compose sentences or stories using phonetic spelling". [I misspelled "phonetic" while writing that sentence. There's some irony there somewhere...] They were "graded" on a scale of "rarely", "sometimes", "usually", and "skill has been mastered". There was also a couple paragraphs of prose describing skills.

I don't see an issue with something like that. In fact, if I was sending a kid to kindergarten and didn't get some sort of feedback like that, I would be annoyed. Something like "English: B, math: A" is inappropriate though, as is "June -- approaching". ;-)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby 3.14159265... » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:41 am UTC

I am beginning to find that on every issue of education I have one stance:
It is amazing for the average student, and horrible for one that wants to learn.

In Afghanistan (And most neighboring countries) students' marks are totaled, and then assigned ranks based on that. This starts in grade 1. We also have exams, midterms (40%) and finals (60%) starting in grade 1.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Savoy_Truffle » Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:50 am UTC

My old report cards from elementary school had Math, Science, and Social Studies....

I hate the concept of grades on principle, but I can't help but be on tenterhooks until mine are out for Fall Quarter (just waiting on Music History and Voice (Master Class and Performance)). *crosses fingers*

But yeah, my life was pretty much was OP said -- until my first year of college, school was about grades and thus I had few friends and virtually no social life. Now I'm "hoping" for As in my classes the day after spending a relaxing and wonderful evening with my friends -- it's a bit of a trade off, but I'm the happiest I've been in years :D
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby OmenPigeon » Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:43 am UTC

My mother ran a preschool/kindergarten/childcare thing for a number of years. I didn't pay much attention to it, since the inner workings of five year olds held very little interest for me in middle school, but I'm pretty sure she sent home report card things periodically. They were usually graded on things like "can follow multiple step instructions" and "doesn't claw other children's eyes out." It seems like this is a pretty reasonable way to measure the progress of a small child.

Grading a five year old kid on Social Studies seems pretty absurd, though. My thoughts on early childhood education aren't very well formed, especially at half past three in the morning, but suffice it to say that expecting a kid at that age to do much more than behave reasonably politely most of the time and know enough not to eat bees twice is enough for me.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Toeofdoom » Mon Dec 17, 2007 9:25 am UTC

Yeah, thats what the report cards I had through primary school were like. Although in grade 1 I started attending grade 6 classes and so got alot of exceeding results etc. It's a terrible system, but atleast we never had report cards at kinder.

I know I was a huge nuisance at creche atleast and probably early kinder, because I hated nap time and preferred trying to read or use the computer they had or whatever. This was at like, 3 years old? I dont think computers were as bad as concentration back then as they are now though, because multitasking was practically impossible in DOS afaik.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Iori_Yagami » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:30 am UTC

Ugly. Horribly ugly.
And in our country teacher community voted for exclusion of grades from younger children altogether. It is stigmatizing and demotivating MORE than useful. Besides, teachers of young pupils are encouraged to give long, several sentence characteristics with advice, not just sole number as 4 or 9. Some 'strange' parents, who do not wish to spend ANY time with the learning kid want marks. Dumbasses!!! Perhaps they are the ones who 'help' kids like this: "Bad mark! Want bigger! Do it! Now!". Knowledge, skills, LEARNING HABITS, overall cultural level matters MUCH MORE than numbers. I had some average marks for which I was proud of, and some excellent marks which I labelled as 'undeserved'.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:22 pm UTC

Suddenly I don't feel so bad about the American school system. Thanks, MJ, for letting me know it's just as fucking nonsensical in the mythic lands of Canada.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby aetherson » Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

Oh yeah, and another thought MJ...
It's awesome you're involved.
I mean really. I have friends that teach and they continually amaze me with stories of parents that are completely unaware of what little Johnny does all day.
But, please don't do like my team lead does here at work...his son was acting up in school and for the past month he's been receiving daily email "behavior updates"....i'd hate that if I was a teacher...
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Zohar » Mon Dec 17, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

tl;dr except for OP.

I don't see a reason there should be grades for kids who aren't in school. Talks with the parents regarding their social development - definite YES. Grades, no.

I understand parents want to give kids a head start in life, but I think maybe they're trying too hard (I'm not a dad yet, BTW). I learned to read and write in Hebrew when I was 6, I started learning English when I was 10 and today I have better Hebrew and much better English than most people my age.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby hipp5 » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:03 pm UTC

I've always felt that elementary school is designed for learning how to play by the authority's rules, junior high is for learning how to play by the social rules, senior high is for learning how to learn and university is for actual learning. It's not the way I'd like to see the system set up, but it's the way it seems to be.

Just to tell you how stupid the public school system is: I was home schooled for grades K-6. My mother had very little input into my education and basically let me learn what I wanted when I wanted. Thing things I wanted to learn I learned well and still remember them to this day. However, people were appalled that I never "learned" (memorized) my times tables. I went to some classes in grade 7 because self learning and what my mother knew could only take me so far. In math class I decided that quick multiplication would be useful for me, so I learned my times tables. I did it not through memorizing but by actually using them when I needed them. Just before Christmas break we had a math contest in my class. I destroyed the rest of the class in all areas, including speed multiplication. These were kids who had been "learning" for the past 7 years.

A funny story about homeschooling: because I didn't go to school I didn't learn how to cursive write. To be honest, I'm glad I didn't. There has never been any use for it except one, my SATs. For those who have taken the SATs you will know that you have to hand write (not print) a short paragraph stating that you are who you are and not someone else taking the test for you. Everyone else in the room was done in 30 seconds but I took a little longer. I ended up holding the test up or ten minutes as I combined what I knew from letters my aunt had sent me with fancy looking squiggles that I made up. I feel that if there's ever a time where I feel I actually need to learn cursive I will sit down and learn it in an afternoon.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Kikral » Mon Dec 17, 2007 4:47 pm UTC

Bah, I was taught some bastard mix of cursive and printwriting in second grade, so my handwriting is naturally a pile of crap. I've managed to fix most of the problems I had with writing, but I still have the penmanship of an 8th grader
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:08 pm UTC

Kikral wrote:Bah, I was taught some bastard mix of cursive and printwriting in second grade, so my handwriting is naturally a pile of crap. I've managed to fix most of the problems I had with writing, but I still have the penmanship of an 8th grader

Quote from my son this morning:

Son: "Dad, your letters are lying to me, my name doesn't have a J in it."
Me: "No, that's an 'i'. My handwriting isn't very good."
Son: "Didn't you learn that in school?"
Me: "Eat your toast."

My son is developing a bit of a frustration problem. He doesn't seem to know that some things are SUPPOSED to be hard at his age (vertical subtraction of numbers higher than 10, for instance), and he gets super-pissed when he can't figure it out, or when he accidentally writes the wrong letter and he starts yelling and crumples up his paper. I'm not sure if it's possible to genetically inherit stuff like that, but it just kills me to see him becoming more and more like me, no matter how hard I try.

Still, he enjoys school, he's popular, and for being in a K / Grade 1 split, he thinks it's neat he's the biggest kid in the class (seriously, he's got an inch on the biggest kid in Grade 1). His best friend is the smallest person in the class, almost exactly 50% of my son's mass. They make such a cool pair.

But yes... grades. Lame. On the plus side, the teachers hate the new grading system, but THEY have to conform to it. When I talk to them in person (super-friendly teachers), they just rave about how polite he is, and how smart he is, even though he has problems when he has to work on something alone (he apparently doesn't like working alone, and when he's in a group, he doesn't like it when he isn't in charge of them), but he's doing excellent, well ahead of the expected curve.

However, she isn't allowed to put that in WRITING, for fear of being fired, or the schoolboard sued.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Iori_Yagami » Mon Dec 17, 2007 6:23 pm UTC

You all are not alone. The single thing I hated most (except PT) was handwriting (and drawing... and making woodwork... OK anything with fine motor skills). I think it is mostly psychological. My grandmother used to yell at me things like: "What's that? Are these letters? You tell me! These are not letters, those are little devils!...blah-blah-blah" for my poor handwriting. I was too little and had to learn, but she had no teaching skills or tact, and I was way too sensitive (some girls were not so sensitive as me) so I ended up hating 'nice' writing altogether and tried to write with printable letters whenever I could.
Good thing, mother caught her and told her never to interfere with my education again from this point forward, forever, period. Mother believed in me, and used to say things, which turned out to be very important in life: "Try, try, try. You will not succeed at first, but you will eventually. Do, do and do, and everything will be fine, you are clever and bright and capable....". I learned on my own (noone actually knew what I did at school), and, as you see, did exceptionally good. So, sometimes laissez-faire is very useful. At least for kids who had character similar to mine. Of course, there are little tricksters who you should monitor like that goat and cabbage. :D
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Solt » Mon Dec 17, 2007 10:10 pm UTC

I think this is a good sign actually. Instead of conforming to the arbitrary grading system by changing their curriculum so the grading makes sense, the teachers are doing what they think is best and teaching at their own pace. Be glad.

Oh, and teach your son to work hard. I'm sure we've all read the articles that get posted here about how smart kids give up easily if they can't do something right the first time, while the dumber kids are told that failure is their fault for not working hard enough, so the slightly dumber kids end up accomplishing more than the smart kids.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Kikral » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:52 pm UTC

The weird thing about my handwriting is that I have been called out by a teacher on it before. Like literally, she called me up to her desk while we were silently working, said something along the lines of "I can't read your writing" and handed a one of those take-home-practice book things. Keep in mind that this was still in second grade, when I didn't have emotions, so I wasn't sure whether to be insulted or not.

In a somewhat related matter, from 2nd to 4th grade, all my teachers were convinced I had some sort of mental problem, and spoke to my parents about a multitude of things, even though I was a hell of a lot smarter than I acted, and was moved up to classes that were very advanced for grade school. I sure showed them...
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Flying Betty » Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:56 pm UTC

I think in kindergarten I got graded in all the usual subjects, but along the lines of "Excellent, Satisfactory, Needs Improvement." So that way we didn't have big scary letter grades but it wasn't quite as stupid as everyone "approaching" the goals for the year.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Delbin » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:05 am UTC

I've never been a fan of them myself. The OP's example is just poor thinking on the teacher's part. I always did perfect to near-perfect on elementary and middle school tests. Learning the material was never the hard part for me. If ever I got a bad grade, it because I didn't want to do some repetitive or pointless exercise. The worst was getting myself to do a presentation and make some sort of diorama. I never gained anything from the experience and it was just 4 or 5 hours of work that wouldn't matter in the slightest the next week.

Would I have done better in college if I didn't have grades? Maybe. I learned in early schooling that I didn't have to do all the work and I could still get an A in the class. I don't know what my modivator was back then for me to learn or do well.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Ess » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:31 am UTC

In kindergarten we didn't really have grades, but we did have a set of skills (like: "Can count to 100" "Can identify shapes" "Follows directions" etc.) and we got either a "needs improvement" "improving" or "mastered skill" and if the teacher thought that we need extra help with something, a note would get sent home (like if a kid didn't know how to tie shoelaces, or couldn't make 5s that didn't look like upside down 2s, or thought the blue crayon looked purple (which, for the record, it totally did)).
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Hrtbrkone » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:34 am UTC

First of all... your son is quite good. It's cool that he's eager to learn at such a young age. ^_^

As far as frustration issues go... well, he's still _very_ young. It's frustrating for males when they cannot overcome obstacles. Moreover, self-control is difficult to develop. It's all a part of growing up.

What do people say? "Damn kids..."



Grades are BS with the current education system, but that's irrelevant until your son gets into highschool. Then he just has to do what gets him highest marks, not what is actually effective in learning useful things in life.

Grades don't matter in kindergarten or elementary school. What's important is that he's eager to learn... and from what you've said, he's well on his way.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby bbctol » Tue Dec 18, 2007 12:45 am UTC

In my kindergarten, one's report card contained three checkboxes:
[]Excellent Student
[]Good Student
[]Average Student

Excellent means "nice job". Good means average. Average means "you suck".

Yeah my school didn't sugarcoat things *at all*...
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Maseiken » Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:12 am UTC

Australia's going througha Grading overhaul atm, as far as I can tell, they're just shifting everything up, so that an "A" now, is worth about a "C" Next year or so, this is how it's been explained to me.
Luckily I'm already in VCE, so I'm not going to have to go through the ordeal of explaining why I got a B or C grade in an A-grade test (An Overhaul of VCE would be much more trouble than the education board is willing to go through right now). What I think sucks, is that this makes A's pretty much dependent on the schoolm or, indeed, the Teacher. Previously, a good mark would be reliant on the essay, this, of course would still be the case, but it seems to me, that a mark of A+ would be nigh-impossible without the deiscretion of the Teacher, With A supposedly being equal to an average mark for the next year level (I'm not sure on the details). Obviously with the recent controversy over Performance-Based pay, a situation in which both policies are in place could lead to a conflict of interest, not that I'm suggesting Teachers as a whole would take advantage of the situation, but it certainly couldn't improve Public/Teacher relations (The fact that Public/teacher relations NEED improving, is so hideously depressing that I can barely believe that it's the case)

Aside from that however, it appears to be quite similar to an IQ test being Re-Normed... Anyone else know anything more about this?
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Joeldi » Tue Dec 18, 2007 1:45 am UTC

At the start of this year, Queensland primary schools went from having the "Can do some skill": Consistently, Sometimes, Never (Later sugar coated to Not Yet)

To an A -> E grading system. It really seems like a stupid idea, also given the fact that I really don't remember much formal assessment in primary school, so I don't know where they're getting their grades from.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby btilly » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:06 am UTC

Solt wrote:Oh, and teach your son to work hard. I'm sure we've all read the articles that get posted here about how smart kids give up easily if they can't do something right the first time, while the dumber kids are told that failure is their fault for not working hard enough, so the slightly dumber kids end up accomplishing more than the smart kids.

I've read all of those studies as well. I accept their conclusions. But I won't exactly be doing that.

You see I figure that if you can teach effort, you can teach cleverness. In fact I'm quite sure of it because that's what my mother did, and her kids generally wound up 2-3 standard deviations better than average.

To be precise what we learned is that if there is an obvious way to do something, there's often a non-obvious way to do it with a lot less work. It is worth spending a little energy trying to find the shortcut because hey, it is only a little energy, and if you succeed you save a lot.

After a while you become good at noticing those shortcuts.

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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Alpha Omicron » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:14 am UTC

I'm fairly certain that I didn't get letter-grades in kindergarten. (mid-90s, Ontario)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:18 am UTC

I could go on a fifty-three million word rant here about grading systems--I mean, I could talk about this shit for hours upon hours, until the collective sum of my words began generating their own gravitational pull and caused the forums to collapse within an ever-widening black hole of BS, within which all the internet would soon be swallowed1--but I'll refrain.

Instead, I'll just tell the following fun little snippet! =D

Certain types of standardized tests are basically run like businesses; a guy with a test to sell you visits your school and tries to sell it to the administration. The thing about this is that these tests are meant to produce a viable competitive measure for students--in short, determine who the smart kids are and who the stupid ones are. Because of this, the optimum 'scoring' pattern is the bell curve (few kids score low, most kids score average, few kids score high).

Thanks to what's best described as a misplaced application of Darwinism, these tests have 'evolved' over the years to best produce the vaunted bell-curve. Questions which have a greater statistical likelihood of being answered correctly or incorrectly by certain types of students (a racial minority, a majority, rich, poor, et cetera) are the best types for creating this illusionary bell-curve; in essence, the test manufacturers look for questions like this and adjust them accordingly to produce the statistical results they want (again, to manufacture that ever-beloved bell curve).

This is great, because it undermines the entire point of the testing apparatus. We actively separate children not so much by competence but by often arbitrary test answers; thus we successfully slot children into the 'dumb' and 'smart' categories and treat them appropriately. It's also a fantastic expression of just how much the philosophy of capitalism has inappropriately permeated our educational system.


1 Maybe this all ready happened. See 4chan? D:
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby lowbart » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:35 am UTC

btilly wrote:
Solt wrote:Oh, and teach your son to work hard. I'm sure we've all read the articles that get posted here about how smart kids give up easily if they can't do something right the first time, while the dumber kids are told that failure is their fault for not working hard enough, so the slightly dumber kids end up accomplishing more than the smart kids.

I've read all of those studies as well. I accept their conclusions. But I won't exactly be doing that.

You see I figure that if you can teach effort, you can teach cleverness. In fact I'm quite sure of it because that's what my mother did, and her kids generally wound up 2-3 standard deviations better than average.

To be precise what we learned is that if there is an obvious way to do something, there's often a non-obvious way to do it with a lot less work. It is worth spending a little energy trying to find the shortcut because hey, it is only a little energy, and if you succeed you save a lot.

After a while you become good at noticing those shortcuts.


That has been my life for the last 7 years. School, computers, Vice City, whatever, any time I suspect it's possible to get the same results with less work, I jump on it.

Some people call it laziness, others call it efficiency.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Alpha Omicron » Tue Dec 18, 2007 2:44 am UTC

UNIX philosophy: If you can do 80% of the job with 50% of the work—that is the right way.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby EvanED » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:02 am UTC

Alpha Omicron wrote:UNIX philosophy: If you can do 80% of the job with 50% of the work—that is the right way.

I would sig that if, uh, I didn't have signatures off. ;-)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby thedufer » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:15 am UTC

Just about everyone I know sees grades as all-important (well, this is wearing off as people get accepted to colleges, but for most of high school it was true) and they always seemed stressed over things I saw as unimportant. I generally did what I felt was important (math, CS, sciences except for biology) and did enough to scrape B's in other classes (which is very little). I feel as if this is a poor sampling of high school kids, since I go to a magnet school (#1 public school in the nation by USNews! w00t!) and am wondering if this is truly the norm.

Also, this kindergarten grading is ridiculous. I remember we were graded on things like counting and being able to write letters. I also distinctly remember my only imperfect grade being in skipping. I feel like my philosophy about not caring about things I feel are unimportant started fairly early in my life. Or maybe I'm just uncoordinated.

Edit: Also also, I work in classes that do interesting things even if they are not useful. See my av, which was made in a supercomputing class when we had contests for best color schemes to color Mandelbrot and Julia sets with.
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby btilly » Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:40 am UTC

lowbart wrote:That has been my life for the last 7 years. School, computers, Vice City, whatever, any time I suspect it's possible to get the same results with less work, I jump on it.

Some people call it laziness, others call it efficiency.

You may find Larry Wall's thoughts on the three virtues of a computer programmer to be inspiring. ;)
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Re: Grades, Marks and Report Cards

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:40 am UTC

Delbin wrote:I've never been a fan of them myself. The OP's example is just poor thinking on the teacher's part.

Not on the teacher's part... on the schoolboard's part.
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