February 9, 2012

Testing and homework and grades, Oh my!

One of my favorite bloggers, Joanne Jacobs, has a knack for getting people riled. Jacobs' post about teachers confusing diligence and achievement got her followers ranting to what for some reason made me think of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Only instead of lions, tigers and bears, I kept hearing, "Testing and homework and grades, oh my!"

Photo credit: FantasyBooksandMovies.com
Although I applaud the passion of Jacobs' readers, I often find their opinions misguided. The "diligence" post was about boosting grades for hardworking students to a minus or a plus grade, mainly to encourage them. So a hardworking F student might be given a D-. The writer Jacobs' references suggests, however, that giving away A's and B's to students who lack skills is wrong -- even "fraudulent."

This ignited numerous comments about children who were being cheated by underachievers and students with disabilities, who are passed along by a broken system. Most of these parents favor the instruments they vilify in their comments, as long as the testing and homework and grades (oh my) benefit their children and don't help the so-called underachievers.

As you may have guessed, my solution, as utopian as it may seem, is to simply eliminate all of the instruments causing the problems -- the tests, the homework and, especially, the grades.