Monday, December 7, 2009

Marks, and what they mean...

And the consensus is generally that they don't mean anything. They don't mean anything in high school, they don't mean too much in university, and they don't mean anything in teachers' college either. I find it deeply ironic that the same people who tell me "Marks don't matter, we need to assess, not to evaluate" are the same people that then turn around, grade my assignments, and give me a mark with little to no comments (which is what assessment should ideally be about). Why are we carrying on with this pretense? Why assign grades to assignments? Why look at students' GPA scores (other than to weed out 80% of students based on a completely arbitrary and irrelevant cutoff point)? Why bother with challenging students in a school setting, when everyone (teachers, parents, students, the school board, the ministry of education, third party observers and consultants) knows that we don't fail anyone, that when we do fail someone there's always: credit recovery, resource rooms, grade fudging (and outright falsification), and when all else fails - appeals direclty to superintendents of the board?

If I carry the argument "marks don't matter, and no one is failed" a little further, the only conclusion I reach is that we should just give out high school diplomas when a student turns 6 years old. Those students who are achievers will achieve great things regardless of the school system, those students who are hopeless will fail regardless of the school system, or so the argument goes that I have no heard all too often from a wide variety of people. Does it dim my determination to become a teacher? No, there are many other worthwhile things involved in being a teacher. It is, however, very frustrating to hear, and it explains so much about the sad state of affairs in our society.