Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did you really earn that grade?

My son had a spelling test the other day (never mind that he is only four). He came home with a lollipop and a reward report saying that he spelled all his sight words correctly. Except: He didn't.

He misspelled the word "this" as "these." I didn't point it out to his teacher, but I did talk to my son about it. I wanted to make sure he knew how to spell the word correctly and the difference between those words.

I thought of that minor grading flub again after reading this article in the Atlantic about grade inflation. Education experts have been taking a look at grades assigned throughout United States' colleges and universities, only to find students are earning better grades overall, even though actual performance hasn't changed. In other words: More students are receiving an A without having earned it.

The article discusses several factors for the grade inflation, including speculation on non-tenured professors trying to retain their positions: Students tend to stay away from hard elective classes and if the class size is too small it would be cancelled, so professors may improve grades to keep their classes around. And then you have those "intangible" classes like music, art and writing, where there are no exact answers. They are simply harder to grade.

But this is at the college level. For us, I want to make sure that my son is able to retain the information he is learning now. Since I don't want to re-test him (how awful would that be - having your Mom re-quiz you after dinner?) I'll just need to pay closer attention. Is he talking about what he learned in our family dinner conversations? Is he using his sight words in sentences? Can he read them in his books?

Most parents these days are involved with their children's homework. Do you feel like your child is being graded fairly? Share with me in the comments.

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