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  #1  
Suinia
Game Reviewer
 
Default No Grades in Schools? - 11-24-2010, 09:21 AM
(An interesting topic brought up in my education class xD)

Should it be said that the move from a formalized process where students are known primarily as a number (or letter) should be abolished in the place of a different sort of system?

On the one hand…
Averages and percentages. It makes it very easy to tell where a school stands amongst all the rest and can, arguably, promote healthy competition while schools (who have the best grades) compete for more funding. It also helps students with tangible rewards and helps in the overall depersonalized system in how students are appraised for post secondary education. (You fit into this slot, then you’ve made it.) It also, supposedly, eliminates any room for subjectivity in lieu of something objective.

On the other hand…
It has been shown that standardized tests often lead to teachers ‘teaching towards the test’ instead of creating individuals who actually ‘learn.’ Instead of actually ‘learning’ students often simply regurgitate information back to their teachers for maximum result often forgetting the information after the final exams. (In short: Are they even really learning anything with the current process?) It can also promote unhealthy competition in which schools that appear to have low averages simply live in poorer parts of the city generally or who cater to students with special needs in the first place. In other words, does the current system really ‘teach’ students or simply make them information storing drones? However, in an alternate system, how are students meant to be appraised for institutions like University?
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  #2  
ALTimore
 
Default 11-26-2010, 05:17 AM
Wouldn't that make the issue more about the teachers than the grading system? It's really up to the teacher to stick to the standard teaching role, or to be creative and look for ways to bring out the best in their students through both test and non-test measures.

I think the grading system's around because it serves as a ruler, a guideline, or even the currency that schools use to put value on the students. While it's true that grades aren't all that matter, they undeniably make a very good basis for companies to hire potential candidates for the jobs they offer.

While it's true that sometimes, students get so caught up in studying and forget about 'learning', this type of education DOES teach them how to cope with situations that may or may not be favorable for them. Also, regardless of the existence of our current grading system there ARE students who don't give a crap about grades anyway and still manage to do well in life. Those are the ones who are confident in themselves and have reason to be, to the point that they don't need grades to tell them how good they are.
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  #3  
Mr.Big
 
Default 11-26-2010, 09:56 PM
you need a way to assess performance and gold stars aren't going to do it. students need to be assessed in such a way that they can be reduced to a number. this is on no way an ideal situation but it is a necessary one. post secondary schools cannot assess a pupil on how nice he is or how much the teacher thought of him. I find the regurgitation of facts argument a moot point as well. studies have shown that the more often you memorize something, the longer it stays with you or the more likely it will be permanently ingrained in your memory. In order to move on to the application of knowledge, that knowledge must first be committed to memory. marks are a good indication of not only ones natural ability to do so, but their work ethic as well (i.e. their inclination to spend long stretches of time studying these facts). as for whether they possess the ability to understand and apply said knowledge, from what I've seen most schooling consists of teaching you base knowledge, then having you apply that in a lab setting, or an essay, or simulating such application in the form of a word question on a test.

As for schools, they should not be tested on their GPA. there are too many variables at play for that to be practical.
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  #4  
Kilconey
Oreo Monster
 
Default 11-27-2010, 07:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Big View Post
you need a way to assess performance and gold stars aren't going to do it. students need to be assessed in such a way that they can be reduced to a number. this is on no way an ideal situation but it is a necessary one. post secondary schools cannot assess a pupil on how nice he is or how much the teacher thought of him. I find the regurgitation of facts argument a moot point as well. studies have shown that the more often you memorize something, the longer it stays with you or the more likely it will be permanently ingrained in your memory. In order to move on to the application of knowledge, that knowledge must first be committed to memory. marks are a good indication of not only ones natural ability to do so, but their work ethic as well (i.e. their inclination to spend long stretches of time studying these facts). as for whether they possess the ability to understand and apply said knowledge, from what I've seen most schooling consists of teaching you base knowledge, then having you apply that in a lab setting, or an essay, or simulating such application in the form of a word question on a test.
.

I'm sorry, but I don't want gold stars as an assessment of my work. Without grades, there is virtually no incentive for me to put forth the ridiculous amount of effort I have been putting in for my school year.

I don't care for other people, but grades are a method for me to make sure I know I'm putting in the maximum effort in retaining information (especially since several exams are cumulative based on the past tests) and are rarely if at all, based off the concept of "regurgitating" information. Mine are based off practical application scenarios given my major, so I need grades as a method to ensure that I have a grasp on what I'm learning and applying it in the right direction.

My high school didn't teach towards the tests either. Of course this point might be considered moot given their financial situation as being one of the better high schools in the state too - but their end goal as far as things were considered were teaching beyond the exams. My AP class teachers expected us to get at least a 4 on the exam (accepted #s being 4-5 by colleges) and in doing so, did not cater to the questions found on the test but rather catered to a higher degree - giving us even harder questions that were on a higher college level (sophomore vs. freshman). So by the time the AP exams rolled around, the exams themselves were considered a joke to us and exceptionally easy.
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  #5  
Suinia
Game Reviewer
 
Default 11-27-2010, 10:35 AM
Just giving voice to the opposite...

Consider the example in which it has been studied that the place that appears to rank foremost in terms of academic standings (Sweden? Norway? Something like that.) actually has no standardized exams most of the time. (They only have them occasionally to be placed in the rankings. Admittedly there's additional factors going on there including the teaching profession being highly competitive with a very nice salary compared to most countries.)

There has also been some study which suggests that students do better in schools if they're not worried about constantly getting that 80 or 90.
Example: A teacher walks into class and says, "You will not be receiving a grade in this class. Instead of focusing on passing the next exam/assignment I simply want you to learn." (I believe when we studied situations like this in education, it was instances like that which had students, typically, with higher grades on final exams and such.)

Consider another example. We were taught about a certain well-off-public school that employees several programs (pre-IB, pre-AP...) and used to have a list posted outside of the principle's office showing the rankings of the students based upon their grades. Is it really sending the right message to #45 with an 85% in that school that he's only #45 instead of #1? (The school later abolished the list and parents complained heavily.)

What some people are saying is, perhaps, school should be based more upon beating your own 'personal best.'
Example: A student who only measures his/her worth based upon getting that 80/90. "I hope the professor gives me an A. I hope the professor gives me an A. Oh no a 70. I can't believe this I got a 65 this time and a 70 this time. This is terrible."
Versus: "Well I hope I was able to do better this time, better than my last essay. Oh look I got a 68. That's great! That's an improvement from my last essay in which I got a 60!"

There is also the issue of subjectivity with marking. Do you honestly think your average can be determined based upon the decimal point simply based upon the standard marking-standard set by professors or teacher's in general? Hardly!

An example in high school: Sometimes the award for highest average was calculate down to several decimal places. "99.567 instead of 99.568"
There is no way grades are that accurate based upon several factors:
1) Different teaching styles. Perhaps one teacher had a 10% participation mark while the other was based upon twenty additional tests that the teacher didn't have?
2) Marking subjectivity. What is considered 'good' or 'acceptable' by one teacher =/= what all the rest think. For instance in math one teacher may mark the entire question wrong if the answer is wrong while another might mark the work and question separately. This is comparable to classes like English in which all of the marking is really quite subjective.

Isn't it really immoral in university classes to mark based on the curve? There you are sitting with an 85% but everyone else in the class gets a 98% and you fail. How moral is it to base your own mark based upon what everybody else gets? Comparably, if everyone gets a 10% and you get a 35% as the highest mark with an A+, how on earth is that passing the course? Are we saying that (as an example) Nursing students who graduate in a similar scenario listed above are proven as acceptable students based upon completing 35% of the course and getting an A anyways?

There's also the issue when comparing "standardized" marking across faculties. Does getting an A in a math course = getting an A in an English course?
Well... (using my own faculty as an example.)
-In a math course it's based heavily on exams only with you receiving your grade based upon the right answer on these exams (also factoring in work completed.) In other words, there is a definitive right and wrong answer. In an English course, for essays, teachers deliberately tell you, "It's not impossible to get an A in this class... Just really hard." (Proceed to go through the year only to discover that ONE student gets ONE A on ONE essay.)

Yet all students are judged and factored together based upon their 'GPA' which is supposed to be a standardized and accurate determining/standardizing factor across all boards despite (as the art's teacher implies) it nearly being impossible to get an A in that course.

They weren't saying that getting rid of grades completely would be ideal, of course, just that the system as it is now (heavily based on numbers etc.) is kind of odd if you think about it like above.

Then we get the two programs: AP versus IB.
As it was described to us, AP is much more emphasized around the typical idea of regurgitating information. (Again this is our own district, not sure if it changes.) The main point of this program is to complete more difficult grade levels at different points in your high school/junior high school career. This gets to the point where you receive university credit. (Although, again, from what I've heard it's kind of limited. In the sense that: Finish AP English and you won't have to take first year english... But you won't get credit for it. It simply allows you to skip straight to 200 level english.)

Versus IB which is based more around subjective terms. (In our system). IB (as it was shown to us) focuses around a sort of octagon of courses with one in the middle. A science, math, english, option, language, and I forget the other (if there is one.) But in the centre was the course "the theory and understanding of knowledge" in general. These courses focus more upon a 'well-rounded' student and encourage people to take full IB programs as opposed to AP which is more centred around 'you're good in this, then take that in AP." Students in IB are told at the beginning of the year that the courses themselves focus more upon learning as opposed to work. So while they do read more, they do less assignments and work sheets. The emphasis being around the idea that they want to teach students how to "think."

Anyways: it seems to be leading towards the idea that pure grades and pure non-grades is not really ideal. (In fact just measuring based on grades seems to be very limited and doesn't really provide an accurate scope on certain things.) IE: Some child could be very, very smart yet not be smart in a 'testable' away.
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  #6  
fabricek
Writer Of The YearGreeter Of The Year
 
Default 12-01-2010, 05:51 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALTimore View Post
While it's true that sometimes, students get so caught up in studying and forget about 'learning', this type of education DOES teach them how to cope with situations that may or may not be favorable for them. Also, regardless of the existence of our current grading system there ARE students who don't give a crap about grades anyway and still manage to do well in life. Those are the ones who are confident in themselves and have reason to be, to the point that they don't need grades to tell them how good they are.
Totally true. I know that what I'm going to say now is always said by kids who think it's cool, but srsly; most of what we 'learn' isn't necessary knowledge for 90% of the students.
Like alot of people, I go to a normal secondary school (General Secondary School) which is like High School in America. With classes like mathematics, we are being teached stuff that contain a lot of letters, algebra and formulas. However, we don't even learn to use them, we just need to know that when you see AX to the second, it equals to a+ax+x or something like that. However, once we're done with that part of maths, we can just completely forget about it because our next part is about calculating chances.
Like this, we end up without remembering anything at the end of the year, which can't be the meaning of school.
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