All across the country, teachers are suddenly learning that their grading practices are rubbish.
“What does a 72 even mean?” they are asked in PowerPoint presentations delivered by well-paid consultants from Gates and Nellie Mae-sponsored nonprofits. “The problem is that it doesn’t mean anything.”
Then they find out that it’s actually even worse than that. Teachers, the consultants explain to the teachers, have been factoring behavior into the grades they assign and it is damaging children irreparably. (Of course, you should be grading behavior, they say – all that social emotional stuff is very valuable data – but you must keep it separate.)
Finally, teachers are told that the real issue at hand is ethics. Our current practice of assigning A’s and B’s is simply wrong. (Just ask grading “expert” Douglas Reeves – and be sure to overlook his own history of significant ethical breaches.)
Teachers, of course, who are painfully accustomed to hearing that most of what they do is wrong, listen patiently for the 1000th time to find out what they must do in order to be right.
And at last they are introduced to the solution, which has been in search of all these grading problems from the beginning: competency-based grading. Of course.
Forget that 1-100 scale that allows teachers dangerous levels of subjectivism. Instead, reduce the whole thing to a much simpler, much more standardized system of 1-4.
And stop scoring subjects too. Instead, assign each student a score for each and every one of those handy standards we’ve given you. Nevermind when parents don’t have a clue what you’re talking about when you tell them their child is getting a 2 in “CC:ELA:4:RF.3a: Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g. roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.”)
Trust us – this system is much more transparent than the one you were using.
Soon enough, you can forget that big-end-of-year-test too. Instead, you can assess your students whenever you like – daily, hourly even – and you can even make your own assessments if your district allows, as long as they are properly aligned and approved by your higher ups, and as long as you enter all the data into the “learning management system” that has been purchased for you with money that could have been used to hire more teachers, but wasn’t because this is far more important.
Oh and by the way? If all that ongoing assessing and scoring feels like too much, as long as your district has purchased 1:1 digital devices (and they will) you can use our learning management system to assign online learning playlists, assessments and assignments. If you go this route (which you should), you can feel free to sit back and be the “guide on the side” that you’re really meant to be anyway.
This is what the shift in your district grading policy is really all about: laying the groundwork for the corporate-driven shift to “personalized learning,” where digital devices can be put in front of each child and data can be mined for the millions of dollars it is worth.
For your friends who don’t believe it, I say simply: follow the money.
I assure you: it’s really not about the kids.