“I thought your article was brilliant. My teachers hated it.” Those were the words of my friend who is the Instructional Coach at his high school. He was referring to an article that I wrote several years ago titled Barbie and Beavis: Holding Students Accountable … to What? In essense, the article questioned whether teachers were basing grades on competency or compliance. The point I made was aligned with Robert Marzano’s question “What’s in a grade?” By having his colleagues read my piece, the coach was obviously challenging the traditional practice of grading students on effort rather than performance. Interestingly, the teachers pushed back, insisting that a grade absolutely should be all about the effort.
I am not surprised that these old school habits are still pervasive in the age of accountability. I just found it curious that the teachers were so vocal in publicly defending a practice that has been repeatedly debunked by both research and antecdotal experience. Afterall, where is the evidence that any school has shown drastic improvement by flunking a bunch of kids for not doing homework?
I wonder if the arrival of the common core and it’s significantly different assessment strategy will force teachers to rethink and retool their own grading practices or will they simply continue with the same-old same-old and just tolerate another annoying state test once a year.(To read the original Beavis & Barbie article click the title below)