[Rigoberto Ruelas] tutored his students after class, visited their homes and met their families, steered them away from gangs and toward college. He arrived early for work every morning at Miramonte Elementary, and had near perfect attendance for 14 years, right up until last week, when he disappeared.If most teachers are excellent, it's not bad to be below average, but it will feel terrible nonetheless. That's the trouble with grading on a curve. Your performance is judged relative to others.
Ruelas' body was discovered on Sunday in a ravine beneath a Big Tujunga Canyon bridge. He left no note, but the Los Angeles County coroner has ruled his death a suicide. Family members have said he had been upset over his score in a teacher-rating database our newspaper created and posted online, which ranked him slightly below average.
ADDED: Of course, if everyone's pretty bad, you can get a false idea of how good you are when there is grading on a curve. I've been grading law school exams on a curve — it's required — for a quarter century, and I know it is much easier to make relative judgments.