Administrators say the changes capture a more nuanced picture of a student's academic progress.Nuance!
According to MPS, the updated report card identifies the skills students need to master in each grade level, and replaces overall letter grades with an AD for advanced, PR for proficient, BA for basic and MI for minimal. Proficient is the level expected for a student's grade level....Peering through the nuance/blurred lines, I suspect that this is an effort to help boys. Who was getting hurt by all the emphasis on completing homework assignments? Who, by contrast, was bolstered by all the credit for compliant paperwork?
"The concept behind this is that we really want the grade to reflect the academic performance of the student vs. whether the student brought the assignment, did extra credit or talked in class," said Dave Dentinger, supervisor of secondary education in the Wauwatosa School District.
Last year, Wauwatosa started allowing students multiple chances to turn in an assignment and get it right. They cannot receive zeros on assignments. Homework is now worth only 10% of an overall grade, and extra credit is no longer accepted.
Oak Creek High School teacher Chris Kurth remembers that last year, when the district encouraged teachers to grade solely on academic performance and not behavior, a lot of questions came from high-performing students. They were sensitive to how the changes could affect their grade-point averages.In what sense were they "high-performing" if they couldn't do well on the tests? They were "high-performing" in the game of playing to the teacher?
Some parents — and students — appreciate the rewards that grades have long offered to students who continually turn in complete assignments on time, and who speak up in class, as those behaviors are also likely to propel them in high school and, eventually, college or beyond.Reading between those lines, I suspect that the credit-giving business had been perverted into an enterprise of teaching compliance and tolerance for boredom and constraint.
The real issue here isn't eliminating grades — because they're just shifting from the old-fashioned letters to "advanced," "proficient," "basic" and "minimal" — it's what grades are given for.