Outsourcing Jobs and Taxes
Ethics in Government Part I: The Resignation of Senator John Ensign

Motivating Students to Take Tests Seriously

California Permits Grade Adjustments (UP) for Results on Standardized Test

The March 2011 issue of California Educator has an interesting article on student performance in the classroom . The digital copy is available at: http://digital.copcomm.com/title/4533.  You may want to read it if you don't believe what I say. The article talks about the fact that teachers at Del Norte High School in Crescent City have figured out a “controversial” way to make standardized tests relevant to students – link them to grades. Now there’s a concept. Maybe it’s just me but I always thought test results should be linked to grades.

Apparently, if students score “proficient” or “advanced” on the California Standards Test, they can raise their semester grade by one level from, let's say, an F to a D, and avoid failing a class. Student sleeping Somehow I don’t think there’s much of a chance of a student with an “F” average being proficient or advanced in anything except avoiding hard work; any other conclusion brings into question the entire California education system.

The article goes on to say that while the school is permitting teachers to use the test results to change grades on a voluntarily basis, in most departments grades cannot be bumped up more than one level  and grades are adjusted retroactively, since the test results are not released from the state until after the grades are submitted. And, of course, no student’s grade would be lowered for poor performance on the test. That would mean holding them accountable for their actions!

The comments of some of the teachers highlight the declining state of education in California and, I imagine, most of the country. Math teacher Dave Bokor is quoted as saying: “It would be nice if [students] performed well on tests for intrinsic reasons, but that doesn’t always happen.” I agree with Mr. Bokor completely, and that is why I’ve blogged so often in the past about the declining work ethic of students in today’s society. There has to be a reason for them to study material rather than for its inherent value.

Perhaps the most telling comment about the upside down standard in education today comes from Tim Guzik, the social studies department chair, who “fears that the policy could be unfair to students who are unable to raise their grades.” Talk about dumbing down the standards.

Blog by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, April 23, 2011