Manipulating Systems vs. Education…Again

This is a well-worn path here at The Diner.

You know the drill by now: The parent who goes to the high school teacher with test paper in hand to get their kid’s grade bumped from a 96 to a 100. The school systems that teach to the upcoming standardized test. The reality that a local high school had nearly 15% of the graduating class with BETTER than a 4.0 G.P.A. Kids who learn how to get “right” answers but don’t learn how to think. Blah blah blah.

You know the good-old-days syndrome drill by now, too: My mom would’ve told me to talk to the teacher if I had a question about grading. I don’t remember taking a standardized test except the year-end Stanford Achievement Test that had no bearing on anything other than how public school kids in Alabama stacked up against the rest of the nation (“Thank God for Mississippi”). There were on 2 kids with better than a 4.0 G.P.A. in my graduating class. Those of us in the middle of the pack academically were too busy cutting up to worry about the “right” answers, anyway, but our ability to be rambunctious (i.e., “accidentally” hooking up the Bunsen burner to the water instead of the gas) was eye-rollingly tolerated so as “a different way to approach the problem.”

And the New York Times article headlined “Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes” gives us the results of the current educational process from the perspective of college professors.

A few quotes:

“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”–Mark Grossman, University of Maryland.

“I think that it stems from their K-12 experiences,” Professor Brower said. “They have become ultra-efficient in test preparation. And this hyper-efficiency has led them to look for a magic formula to get high scores.”–Aaron Brower, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Students often confuse the level of effort with the quality of work. There is a mentality in students that ‘if I work hard, I deserve a high grade.’”–James Hogge, Vanderbilt University.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.

The article even mentions that some universities have instituted a mandatory class for freshmen that re-introduces students what an education truly is as well as the reality that grading will be different at this level.

Oh, brother.

I’m not exactly sure why or how we got to this point, but I hope this trend corrects itself somehow.